25 Matthew 9:1-8 - The Merciful Judge

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Title: The Merciful King Text: Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26 FCF: We often struggle understanding the depth of our sin and the height of God’s Holiness Prop: Because Jesus is the second person of the Godhead, we must depend on Jesus our King Scripture Intro: [Slide 1] Turn in your bible to Matthew chapter 9. If you are going only by chapters, we are almost 30% through the book of Matthew. Depending on your perspective that could be either a really great thing, or a really terrible thing. To me I was surprised to learn that we had gotten that far, but if you are the one thinking “we are only 30%” I don’t blame you. But in the words of another expository preacher, there is only one other speed at which I can go through this book, and that is slower. But for your sake, my friends, we will press on toward what Matthew and The Lord has for us in this gospel. For the last several weeks Matthew has been trying to show us that Jesus has the authority that would only be given to the promised King of Israel. The Messiah. The Son of David. One thing I did not remind you of in the past few weeks, is that Matthew is not writing a chronological account of the life of Christ. Although it may seem like the events that continue here happen one right after another, you must understand that Matthew is writing with a purpose. That purpose is to show that Jesus is the Messiah, the Lion of Judah, the promised King of Israel. To accomplish this, Matthew has structured his book around 5-7 speeches of Jesus, depending on how you count them. After these speeches, called discourses, Matthew uses events in Jesus’ life to prove one or many points from the discourse. So in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is relaying what the Kingdom of God looks like. Who will be there. How they live. And that He would be the one deciding if someone was allowed to enter or not. For the past few weeks we have seen Jesus proving His authority to declare such things about the Kingdom of God. [Slide 2] 8:1-17 – We see Jesus’ authority over disease, which Matthew says is fulfillment of Isaiah 53 about the promised Messiah. The historical episodes he gives us in this section happen both before and after the Sermon on the Mount [Slide 3] 8:18-22 – We see Jesus’ authority to judge the hearts of would be disciples, proving Himself to be God, since only God can judge the hearts of men. These historical episodes happened after the Sermon on the Mount. [Slide 4] 8:23-27 – We see Jesus’ authority over Nature proving at very least a connection to God, if not divinity. This episode also happened after the Sermon on the Mount. [Slide 5] 8:28-34 – Last week we saw Jesus’ authority over the Spiritual realm, and who has the power to command the principalities and powers to do as He asks them to? God. This historical episode also happened after the Sermon on the Mount. [Slide 6 (blank)] Today, Matthew will show Jesus’ authority over not just the spiritual realm and nature, but over the spiritual nature of man. Not just over disease of the body, but over disease of the soul. And not just authority to judge the hearts of men, but to change them. Today, Jesus shows Himself to be the Merciful King. I am in Matthew 9 and I’ll start reading in verse 1, I’ll be reading from the NKJV but follow along in whatever version you prefer. Sermon Intro: [Slide 7] When I was in high school, the sheriff’s department came to our school to promote a no drinking and driving program. They brought us outside during the last period of the day. We were led to a side parking lot that had been kept clear for us. As we approached the parking lot we saw a few golf carts and several orange cones set up. The officer in charge demonstrated for us what the object was. He got into a golf cart and drove back and forth between the cones. Based on the spacing, and the speed at which he was able to do this task, we concluded that it was not a difficult course to navigate. But he had a twist that he had not yet revealed to us. Each of us were going to wear what they called beer goggles. I tried looking up how these goggles work on the internet, but that was not helpful. So, I don’t know how they work, but when you put them on, you are immediately disoriented. It was hysterical watching my classmates attempt such an easy task and failing miserably at it. Luckily for me, the period ended before I got a chance to go… nuts!  But before class ended, one last person got to go, and for whatever reason, the goggles affected him more than everyone else. He wildly veered off course and to make matters worse, he couldn’t seem to figure out how to turn around. Eventually he had to stop completely, take off the goggles, and return the golf cart. Without the goggles he had no trouble at all comprehending where he was going. When he came back to the group I remember him saying – I don’t understand how I got so far away from the course? It didn’t seem like I was that far. To a certain degree, all of us are born with goggles on. Not beer goggles. Much worse. We are born with depravity goggles. Through these goggles we perceive the world to be a certain way. We see ourselves and others through the lenses of our own finite depravity. Naturally we assume that we are good people and even that others are good people. We assume that if there is a god, he must be somewhat like us. Morality and ethics all swirl together into a relativistic lifestyle of almost anything goes.. George Orwell once said “The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it.” And to put that in a spiritual way, the longer a person or a society wears the goggles of depravity, the more hatred it has for what is holy. But like the young man who took off the beer goggles … when that depravity is stripped away. When those goggles, even if only for an instant, are pulled away from our eyes. [Slide 8] We see two of the most terrifying truths you could ever find. 1.) That God is real and He is Perfect, Good, Holy, And Just, and hates sin. 2.) That we are wicked, to the very core of our being, to the extent that there is nothing good left of us – only filthy rags – of no value. Today is the historical episode of a man who came to such a realization, and was immediately healed of his fear. Transition: How? How could fear of such things go away so quickly? How could something like these two truths end in anything but his judgment and death? Let’s look… I.) Jesus has the authority to deem faith worthy of forgiveness, so we must depend on Jesus our King. (1-2; Mark 2:1-5; Luke 5:17-20) a. [Slide 9] 1 – Getting into a boat, Jesus crossed over the sea and came to His own city i. We need to understand that this is not a transition to the next chronological event. ii. Rather this verse serves more as a closing line to the demoniac of Gadara event. iii. It serves to show us that Matthew is about to move on to another aspect of Jesus’ authority. iv. The city He was going to would be Capernaum, but those events that follow chronologically, we will have to wait until later in chapter 9 to see. v. For now, Matthew chooses to double back to before the sermon on the mount was preached, and convey 1 final aspect of Jesus’ authority vi. After that, and before he moves on chronologically, he wants to show his readers what it means to be a disciple of Christ. But we will get to that next week. b. [Slide 10] 2- And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. i. As with last week, we get a bit more context from both Mark and Luke regarding this event. ii. He was back in Capernaum MK 2:1 iii. Many gathered to hear Him preach the Word of God MK 2:1 and LK 5:17 iv. There were many Pharisees and Scribes present from every village of Galilee, Judea and Jerusalem (which is a lot of representatives to gather in a little home. LK 5:17 v. God’s power was with Jesus to heal others LK 5:17 – up to this point Jesus had not healed anyone in the book of Luke, so Luke felt it necessary to remind his Gentile reader, Theophilus that God the Father gave the Son power to do this. vi. 4 men carried this paralyzed man MK 2:3 vii. Both Mark and Luke record that the men could not get through the crowd with the man on the stretcher , so they went on the roof and took out some tiles (not vandalism, simple to fix) and lowered him into the room in front of Jesus. c. 2 – Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, “Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.” i. In all three gospels there is not a whiff of these men bringing this man to be healed. ii. In fact, Luke and Mark emphasize that Jesus was there teaching and preaching. iii. And Luke reminds Theophilus that Jesus had the authority to heal people, almost preparing him for the event that was about to occur. iv. Meaning that no one expected Jesus to be able to heal such a permanent disability. Not even the men who brought him. v. Jesus sees their faith. As only the eyes of the King of the universe could. The faith of the four men who brought him, but primarily the faith of the paralytic. Then having seen that faith, Jesus says something completely unexpected. vi. Take Courage, son, your sins are forgiven. Everything Jesus says here is absolutely loaded with meaning so lets break it down. 1. Take Courage – The word means to be courageous, but not in a temporary surface level courage. This would not be an expression that you used to tell a soldier to get ready for war. This word is used of deep courage. Deep peace. To be comforted. To be hopeful. To be confident. It is something you would tell a soldier who has won the battle already. Someone who is horrified by the cost of the war, and you are telling them, be hopeful, because you won. Jesus sees the faith of these men. And woven to that faith, is the horror that they were standing before the God-Man, the Messiah, The Judge of the Living and the Dead, The Holy and Great I AM. And Jesus says… be comforted. Have hope. There is nothing left to fear. 2. Son – A word that a Jew having met the Holy God of Israel would have been starving to hear. To be called a son of God. A child of God. Such a statement after the horror of realizing his spiritual condition before the Son of God would have been a great comfort. But why is he told that there is nothing to fear? Why call him son? Because… 3. Your sins are forgiven – There is no greater gift Jesus could have given him. There is no greater love Jesus could have shown him. Even if He had left this man in his paralyzed state, THIS would have been all he truly wanted or needed, having come face to face with the Son of the Most High God. And this man had no need to fear anything any longer. His faith had been counted to him as righteousness. 4. This was his only real need. And Jesus met it. d. [Slide 11] In doing this Jesus proves that He has absolute authority in a few things regarding the spiritual state of man. i. He has the authority and ability to peer into the heart of men to see what they truly believe ii. He has the authority to determine what faith is acceptable and what faith is not. iii. He has the authority to grant forgiveness based on whether that faith is acceptable or not. e. [Slide 12] We also learn a little something about what genuine faith looks like too. i. We see that genuine faith must include fear of God. 1. Fear of His judgment. 2. Fear of His wrath. ii. And a realization that you are absolutely spiritually bankrupt. And that bankruptcy leads to sorrow over your helpless estate. iii. Finally we see absolute dependence on the Mercy and Grace of God to act independent of you to save you. Jesus met this man in his helpless estate and freed him of its chains. Transition: [Slide 13 (blank)] So Jesus claims He is able to peer into the hearts of men to determine the quality of their faith and forgive accordingly. That is pretty authoritative. No man enjoys such power. But was He telling the truth, or was this some kind of trick? The scribes and Pharisees in attendance wrestled with this question. II.) Jesus, being God, has the authority to grant forgiveness as easily as He can heal the paralyzed, so we must depend on Jesus our King. (3-8; Mark 6-12; Luke 21-26) a. [Slide 14] 3 – And some of the scribes said to themselves, “This fellow blasphemes.” i. From Mark and Luke we understand that they were thinking this, or mulling it over in their minds. Matthew says the same thing but in a more difficult way, “said to themselves” maybe makes you think they were speaking with each other. However it is most likely that they were simply thinking. ii. From Luke we know that it was not just he scribes but the Pharisees too. iii. We know also from Mark and Luke the reason that these scribes and Pharisees thought it was blaspheme. Because only God can forgive sins. See how close they came? b. [Slide 15] 4 – And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, “Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?” i. At the end of Psalm 139, a psalm where David declares that the Lord sees all things and that He can see the wicked around him. He asks God to kill them. He concludes by asking God to test his motives. He says: “Examine me, and probe my thoughts! Test me, and know my concerns! See if there is any idolatrous tendency in me, and lead me in the reliable ancient path” ii. Only God can know the thoughts of men. Only God can know the wickedness of our hearts. iii. Even if the scribes and Pharisees didn’t get it, that He was God because He forgave sin… they should have got it when He read their thoughts and exposed them. iv. Then He moves to challenge their thoughts specifically. Because it would be one thing to read their countenance and see that they were angry. v. It would be another to address the unvoiced reason that they were angry. c. [Slide 16] 5 – “Which is easier, to say, ‘your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘get up, and walk’? i. Now on the surface this isn’t a difficult question. However, the more you think about it, the more difficult the answer becomes. ii. To say to someone ‘ your sins are forgiven’ would be an easier task. Why? 1. Because you can’t know whether it is true or not. 2. Although we know that genuine faith produces genuine change in people. Therefore, we can know whether we have been forgiven. 3. Another layer of this, is that to actually achieve forgiveness for mankind, Jesus was going to have to be crushed under the wrath of God. That is anything but easy. iii. To say to someone ‘get up and walk’ 1. This would be a little more difficult in a sense because it is easy to disprove your authority. 2. But with faith as big as a mustard seed you can move mountains. Indeed Jesus gives authority to the disciples later to heal and cast out demons in His name. 3. And by comparison to being crushed under God’s wrath, healing someone doesn’t seem so difficult now. iv. So which is easier to say? Neither. And I think that is Jesus’ point. Neither are easy to claim about yourself because both are going to require evidence and both are beyond the capability of mere men. v. But to make sure they come away with the right idea, Jesus makes it easier on them. d. [Slide 17] 6-7 – “But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” – then He said to the paralytic, “get up, pick up your bed and go home.” And he got up and went home. i. After He completely baffles them with a question that there is simply no easy answer for, Jesus then puts it all to rest – regardless of which conclusion they came to – and heals this paralytic. ii. He commands him to get up, pick up his bed- just in case it was only his legs that got healed, nope his arms too. iii. He got up and went home. iv. Son of Man – as we have discussed before is a common phrase to talk about the humanity of a person. However, it is also linked to Daniel 7 as a specific reference to the Messiah of God. v. On earth – An interesting phrase. When used in conjunction with the title Son of Man, it makes it all the more obvious that Jesus is referring to Himself as the Daniel 7 Son of Man and not simply human. vi. The Messiah is said to be God among men. That God would walk among us. Therefore, to have authority to forgive sin on earth is just another way of saying – to prove I am the God-Man, the Messiah. e. [Slide 18] 8 – But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men. i. Awestruck – A good word to describe the Greek word. The word means fear. Reverential fear. And it is always used when someone comes into contact with God. They are in awe and fear. A line that isn’t that clearly defined. ii. They glorified God because He had elected to give this authority to men. What does that mean? Well there are a few different options for us 1. Perhaps the people understood at least in part that God would be handing authority to His disciples to go about healing others. This seems unlikely that the crowd would just know that. 2. What is probably more likely is that the people misunderstood Jesus’ allusion to the Son of Man and understood it to mean that God was giving this authority to humanity. Which He would in a sense, but the point is that the Jews missed Jesus’ claim to divinity. AGAIN… f. [Slide 19 (blank) (end)] Let’s make sure we don’t miss it. That Jesus is the only hope for all mankind. Being the judge of all mankind He not only doles out justice and wrath, but also forgiveness and compassion. That forgiveness is granted to those whose faith is in Him. i. Faith that recognizes their helplessness ii. Faith that yields to being irretrievably changed into what He desires that they be iii. Faith that depends in the Words of God over the experience of men iv. Faith that finds no other earthly comfort worth delaying their dogged pursuit of Him. v. Faith that knows beyond all shadow of doubt that Jesus is the only thing worth pursuing, vi. Everything since the Sermon on the Mount has led us here. This is what we believe. vii. That we would be less than nothing without Him. We’d be hopeless rebels without Him. That we live for Him not out of payment for forgiving us but because as people who have been invaded by His grace, we taken off the goggles and can see that there is nothing else worth living for. Transition: So how can we apply this to our lives today? What did Matthew want the Jews to know and what does that mean for us? Conclusion: Matthew wanted the Jews to understand that Jesus was the Messiah, the God-Man, sent to be their guilt offering and provide a ransom for their sin. He would be their judge and their salvation all rolled into one. And here we are 2000 years later, and the message is still the same. Jesus is still the anointed one of God. He is still offering forgiveness. He is still offering a substitute. Who do you resonate with most in this account. Are you the crowd who doesn’t quite get it – that Jesus is just a man. Are you the Pharisees and Scribes? Do you look at Jesus as a lunatic or liar pretending to be something that He is not. Perhaps you are one of the onlookers that simply came to hear Jesus teach because that is what you did back then. You came and heard people teach. Or are you the paralytic? Have you come face to face with The King of the Universe? Do you know how you can tell if you have? Are you gripped with fear? Are you awestruck? Have you discovered that you are spiritually bankrupt – helpless in your condition? That your wickedness is an abomination to the Great I AM? Whether you have been a Christian for decades or have never been – this is the first great step in the process of genuine change. It is a step that the religious often neglect. Legalists and Libertines alike, neglect to recognize their fundamental barrenness. But friend it doesn’t have to stop there. You’ve seen who you are, what you are before a Holy God. A God who hates sin, and would have every right to cast you into His lake of Fire, a place of refuge for those who cannot endure to be what God would have them to be nor can they endure being in His presence. But you don’t have to stay this person. Do you see that Jesus is not just your judge, but that He is your hope. He is your stability. He is your all in all. He is your rock. He is your fortress. That He can put you on higher ground. He can move you to be a man or woman of faith. He can forgive you. He can make you new. Perhaps you’ve pretended up to this point. Perhaps you’ve always thought… yeah I’m a Christian. I go to church. I read my bible sometimes. I believe that Jesus came and died for my sin. All those are very nice. But none of those are genuine tests for whether or not you are a follower of Christ. The question is not do you know Him. It is does He know you? Do you encounter His holiness in the bible? Have you seen your wickedness in its comparison? Is your life a battle? Is everyday another day that you get up and cry out to God to save you from yourself. To keep you from messing things up …AGAIN! Do you find His character in you? Do you selflessly love others, or are you all you think about? Are you joyful? Not happy. Joyful. Do you trust in the sovereignty of God to the point that all life is an opportunity to choose joy? Do you have peace with God or do you regularly chafe against His righteous expectations? Are you quick to pursue justice or to show mercy? Are you gentle, and kind –rarely harsh? Are you good to others? Do you treat them fairly or better? Are you reliable? Is your faith stable? Can you control your emotions to the extent that you don’t lash out at others? Can you be sweet, even in confrontation? Are you self controlled? Do you control your emotions or do they control you? Do you control your desires or do they control you? This is the character of God in us. This is the Fruit of the Spirit. When you have them, you are walking in the Spirit. If these have never been part of your life– then perhaps you have been a Scribe all your life but today you are a paralytic. Won’t you come and begin believing unto salvation? The opportunity is available to you today. To those in whom the Spirit already resides – this passage of scripture is a great tribute to the divinity and love of our God. From this text we can leave knowing that when we sin, He will not let us get away with it. His holy presence will show us our inconsistency with the Spirit in us. We will come to Him in repentant honor and seek His forgiving love. A well which never runs dry. When we come to Him the power of His Spirit renews and changes us. Jesus has the authority over disease, destiny, nature, demons and even our depravity. He can reach inside that chest of yours and give you a new heart. Will you beg Him for that today? He is the hope. He is the comfort. He is the peace. He can make you new. Repent and Depend on the Son of God to take away your sins and make you new – whether that would be the first time in your life, or your 100th time today, allow Him to make you new.

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