Jesus Cares for Our Needs

Title: Jesus Care for Our Needs

[Audio http://ab86qw.bay.livefilestore.com/y1pHWG5bMR_kl9vcRO5CIL-UN_Q2_CBBcLVgmZKAW3s0g5sJUMvrsCh1wrh9l6OWRdsmeNTGSiL7l7RhMMpVHNKYQ/10-26-08jesuscaresforourneeds.mp3%5D

Text: Matthew 9:1-8

Date: October 26th, 2008

 

We’re in the Book of Matthew, continuing a study in the chapters following the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is teaching and ministering to people, but he’s not just teaching and ministering to those people way back then, but he’s also teaching and ministering to us today. How can that be? How can Jesus teach and minister to us today through the pages of the New Testament? Because what he teaches and what he does doesn’t just apply to the ancient people at the time he lived, but they also apply to us today. What Jesus taught them, we need to know today. What Jesus did for them, he’s still doing today for us. We need to know that the Bible is not just a book of history full of dead letters. It’s a living book that teaches and gives us examples of God’s will for our lives today. If we see Jesus healing someone of their sickness back then, it means that he is interested in healing us today, if that is God’s will to do so. When we see Jesus teaching people in the first century, that means he’s interested in teaching us today the very same truths. When we see Jesus comforting people in ancient times, that means he’s still interested in comforting people today. That’s why when we read the Bible we aren’t just reading history, we are reading a present source of God’s will and power for us today also. Well today, we go further into the Book of Matthew, into a section of the New Testament that describes Jesus cares for the needs of people. Matthew 9:1-8, “Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.’ At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, ‘this fellow is blaspheming!’ Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, ‘Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven, or to say Get up and walk?” 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, take your mat and go home.’ And the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.” What is the purpose of this description in the Bible? To show us the heart of Jesus towards people. Jesus really cares about people, about you, about me. We can really sense that caring attitude in Jesus as we read and reflect on this short passage from the Book of Matthew. I’d like to point out three things that we can learn about how Jesus cares for us. The first is that Jesus sees our faith. The second is Jesus forgives our sins. And the third is Jesus heals our hurts. We must never forget that beneath everything Jesus teaches and does, he cares for us.

First, Jesus sees our faith. Matthew 9: 1-2, “Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, son. . . .” It says that Jesus saw their faith. Whose faith? The men who brought the paralytic to Jesus, and probably the paralytic himself. Jesus saw the faith of these men. Now that’s a curious phrase about seeing faith, because faith is sometimes or most times hard to see. For example, many people attend church, but not all church-goers have faith. There are many reasons why people attend church; it doesn’t necessarily mean that one has faith. There are many motivations for affiliating with a church. The worse motive I’ve heard of is the confession of a businessman who claimed that he joined the local church because he wanted to make business contacts with the members. God sees our faith, he sees our motives. We need to remember that. Not everyone who professes Christianity really has faith, really trusts in Christ, really believes with the whole heart. There are many reasons one might profess Christianity. I remember reading the brief historical background of Karl Marx, the famous 19th century atheist and founder of communism. His family was Jewish, but his father joined the local protestant church because he didn’t want his family rejected for being Jews. Imagine professing Christianity all the while actually being of another religion because you didn’t want the social stigma of being a Jew in a mostly Christian population. No wonder as a boy Karl Marx acquired a bad taste for religion, because it was mostly based on hypocrisy and lies within his own family. But God sees our faith. He sees what’s in our hearts. We can fool people on the outside, but we can’t fool God. He also sees us when we act in faithful ways that nobody sees. Jesus tells us elsewhere that when we pray to go alone and not draw attention to ourselves. God sees us pray and promises to reward us for our sincere prayers. The same with reading the Bible. We are to hear God’s Word every day in our devotional time. We don’t get the applauds and rewards of men when we carry out our devotions every day, but God sees and will reward us at the proper time. Jesus sees our faith, just as he saw the faith of these men. Do you ever get discouraged because it just doesn’t seem like God notices you when you faithfully follow his will, yet it always seems like God immediately notices when you disobey his will? That’s a natural feeling, but Jesus shows us here that God notices our faith. Yes, he sees our sins as well, but don’t forget that he sees our good deeds also and is pleased whenever he sees faith and obedience. Don’t think that the only thing God is looking for is our mistakes, our failures, our sins. No. He’s looking also for our faith so that he can encourage us. Jesus said to the paralytic, “Take heart my son.” He says that to us as well when we put our faith in him.

Second, Jesus forgives our sins. Matthew 9:2-5, “Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.’ At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, ‘this fellow is blaspheming!’ Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, ‘Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier to say, “Your sins are forgiven, or to say Get up and walk?”’” Not only does Jesus see our faith, he forgives our sins. He not only encourages us when we do good, when we believe and trust in his will, but he also deals with our sins by forgiving them when we come to him in confession and repentance. It’s truly a miracle that we can break God’s law and then find forgiveness when we come humbly before him. We are so used to grace and mercy and forgiveness because of the Christian message that has so strongly permeated Western culture, that we often take it for granted. There isn’t anything that says forgiveness is guaranteed. There is no cosmic code that says God must forgive simply because a sinner asks him for forgiveness. God could just as easily, maybe even more justly, not grant forgiveness and let us all perish in eternal punishment. But out of the love of God flows forgiveness because God is not only omnipotent and omniscient and omnipresent, but he’s also Good. He came up with a way to save a fallen human race that is in rebellion against him. He came up with a plan that included the Son Jesus dying on the cross in place of every lost sinner as a substitute death offering. Jesus paid for our sins with his own life and earned us forgiveness and eternal life in doing so. Now that bothers a lot of people, like the Pharisees and teachers of the Jewish law, because they don’t think it’s right that anyone should die and pay for another’s sins. They think that each man should pay for their own sins, that each person should stand or fall according to their own deeds. The Jews still believe that and so do the Muslims. But Christianity teaches that all have sinned and all fall short of God’s righteousness. If every man and woman stood or fell on the bases of their own deeds in life, everyone would fall, be judged guilty and condemned to eternal punishment. There are no righteous people, nobody qualifies on their own for heaven. Everyone needs forgiveness. Everyone owes God a debt he or she can’t pay. That’ why it’s a blessing beyond measure to hear the words of Jesus, “Take heart, your sins are forgiven.” He says that to you and me also, if we’ve come to Christ humbly and confessed and repented of all our unrighteousness. He won’t turn anyone away. Have you come to Christ for forgiveness? Have you humbled yourself and admitted that you are a sinner deserving of judgment? Have you confessed and repented of each of your sins? Why not do that today – and receive the forgiveness Christ offers you.

Third, Jesus heals our hurts. Matthew 9:6-8, “’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, take your mat and go home.’ And the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.” Jesus has the power to heal our hurts. Hurts come in all types and sizes. There are emotional hurts, physical hurts, spiritual hurts, mental hurts. There are relationship hurts, financial hurts – the list could go on and on, it is endless. And Jesus can heal all our hurts whenever it is his will to do so. In this case, the man suffered from a paralysis; he was crippled. But on that day, at that time, in that place, it was God’s will to heal the man, and so he was healed. I’m encouraged by the fact that God is not limited by any earthly limitations. No problem is too big for God. You may have big problems today in some area. It probably isn’t the same problem this man had. You may or may not have physical hurts in your life right now, but you’ve got something that’s causing pain in some area. God knows and God cares about your life and cares about your hurts. Now he’ll do one of two things about your hurt, whatever it might be. One, he might just take it away, heal you of your hurt outright. Don’t we all love that, when God steps in directly and takes away our pain or solves our problem? That’s what he did for this man who was paralyzed; he healed him. And God does that in his own way, in his own time and place in our lives sometimes. But not always, or not usually. Two, he usually helps us get through our pain, he helps us go through our problems and hurts in life. Now why does he do that? Why doesn’t he always heal our hurts directly? Why doesn’t he always automatically solve our problems immediately? Well, nobody knows the mind of God completely, nobody can read God’s mind and say for sure why he makes us go through a process that includes pain. But there is no question that for some reason he most of the time requires that we trust him by faith to get through our problems instead of directly delivering us out of them. There must be some important value in struggling by faith through life instead of being delivered immediately into heaven, or else we wouldn’t be here on earth after we are saved. We must trust God that he’s in charge of our lives whether or not we get our hurts healed immediately or through a process that might last a lifetime. But the good news is that eventually, ultimately, we will one day be delivered of all our hurts, all our struggles, all our problems when we reach heaven – and for most of us that’s only years away. In the meantime, we have God’s assurance that he sees what we go through, he cares what we go through, and he promises to be with us as we go through it. In that we can take comfort.

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