Emmanuel CRC
2021-10-31
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  • God The Uncreated One
  • I will Exalt
  • I Will Glory In My Redeemer
      • Matthew 9:1–8ESV

      • Matthew 10:14–15NIV2011

      • Mark 3:28–29NIV2011

      • Daniel 7:13–14NIV2011

      • Matthew 9:8NIV2011

  • Friends in Faith
  • A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
  • What Kind of Man is This?

    This morning we continue with our series: What kind of Man is This?
    We have seen that Jesus is the kind of man who rebukes winds and waves, and they submit into complete calm. Last Sunday, we saw that Jesus is the kind of man who speaks to demons, and they flee at his command. “What kind of a man speaks to the wind and waves, and they obey Him?” This morning we consider the question, “What kind of man forgive sins?”

    Matthew Sees Purpose

    In the region of the Gadarenes, on the other side of the Sea of Galilee from Capernaum, Jesus healed two demon possessed persons. Frightened by the transforming power of God among them, which they neither expected nor understood, the people of the nearby town pleaded with Jesus to leave them.
    Always in control, always purposeful, Jesus stepped into the boat. These gentiles did not force Jesus to leave. Jesus did not merely bend to their plea. Jesus chose to leave them. By using the phrase “Jesus stepped,” Matthew is communicating an intentional and purposeful action by Jesus. It foreshadows, the instructions that Jesus will give his disciples when he sends them out to proclaim the message of the kingdom.
    Matthew 10:14–15 NIV
    If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.
    Jesus stepped into the boat, crossed over and came to his own town – Capernaum. Jesus returns to the amazed, but not committed crowd. Yet with in that crowd there were a few who had saving faith. For example, the leper, the centurion, and Peter’s mother-in-law. Now, we see men bringing a paralyzed man to Jesus. These men came with a purpose. They were confident that Jesus could heal and would heal this man.

    Jesus Sees Faith

    Mark and Luke also report this event. They note that Jesus was teaching in a house. It was likely Peter’s house where Jesus had healed Peter’s mother-in-law. The crowd around Jesus was so thick that the only way these men could get the paralyzed man to Jesus was to create a hole in the roof big enough to lower the man on his mat down in front of Jesus. It was a bold act.
    Jesus saw the faith of the man’s friends or relatives whoever they were. Jesus saw that their faith was not merely a faith that things would get better, but faith in Jesus that he was who he said he was and would do what he said he could do. Jesus saw this faith and was moved to action.

    Jesus Sees Sin and Sickness

    Jesus saw the man as he really was. The root of this man’s misery was his unforgiven sins. Maybe it was his sinful lifestyle that led to his paralysis. Maybe it was a tragic accident that left this man in physical misery. Maybe he was born paralyzed. It does not matter how or when the man became paralyzed, Jesus saw the man’s sin was devouring him. Jesus went immediately to the root problem.
    Jesus knows sin is the root of all sickness and physical brokenness. While not all sickness is a direct result of sin; all physical brokenness flows from humankind’s refusal to live in obedience to God. One of the benefits of our deliverance from sin is our relief from sickness and physical deformity, particularly promised in the new heaven and the new earth, “where there will be no more death, mourning, crying or pain.” One commentator put it this way,
    God has graciously provided for removing our sin in the sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection of Jesus; and therefore the fundamental means God has provided for removing our sickness is the sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection of Jesus.
    Although the man’s paralysis was real and not allegorical, it provides a picture of the effects of sin in our lives. When sin runs its course in our life, we are completely powerless to do anything about it. All our efforts at a better life are useless because we are spiritually paralyzed. Our life as vibrant and productive as it may appear to others is meaningless because our sin has us on the broad road to destruction. We can’t get ourselves off the road. We must be delivered from the broad road to hell. That is what Jesus, the Son of God came to do.
    Our deliverance begins when we hear Jesus say to us, “take heart, son, take heart daughter, your sins (all of them) are forgiven.” These sweet words can only come from the lips of God. When the words “your sins are forgiven” take up residence, not in our intellect only, but in the lived experience of our soul, we experience the joy of our salvation.
    For this paralyzed man and for us too, God’s work of forgiveness produces an inner healing not visible to the natural eye. It takes spiritual sight to see God’s forgiving work in our lives and in the lives of others.

    Teachers of the Law See Blasphemy

    We see that the teachers of the Law were spiritually blind because they could not see God standing among them doing what only God can do – forgiving sins. They thought they saw “a man” forgiving sins, when they were seeing the Son of God forgiving sins. Because they did not see, really perceive, what they were looking at they drew the wrong conclusion about what was happening in front of their eyes.
    These blind teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!” Mark and Luke add the phrase, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
    Blasphemy occurs when a human insults the honor of God. For the teachers of the law Jesus is dishonoring God by claiming for himself an ability and authority that belongs exclusively to God. According to the Law, blasphemy required death by stoning. The word translated “thoughts” implies this condemnation of Jesus as a blasphemer was not a rush to an unjustified judgment. Rather, their conclusion was their well-considered, scholarly, legal, and biblically based assessment of what was going on before their eyes.

    Jesus Sees Unbelief

    Jesus knew their thoughts and said, “Why do you entertain such evil thoughts in your heart.” The word translated “entertain” has the sense of “to meditate deeply on a subject.” This implies a that their condemnation of Jesus had settled deeply within them.
    Why did Jesus call these thoughts evil thoughts? Their thoughts were evil because they were calling the work of God unfolding before their eyes evil. In fact, it was their own words that were blasphemy.
    In Mark’s Gospel the teachers of the law accuse Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Satan. In saying this they were calling the work of God, Jesus’s work among them, the work of Satan. Jesus said this to them,
    Mark 3:28–29 NIV
    Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.”
    Because the teachers of the law could not see God at work right in front of their eyes, they were unable to join with God in what He was doing in this moment. Their spiritual blindness meant that they were completely missing the point not just of this specific moment but of all of life. They misinterpreted who Jesus was and what Jesus was doing. It was an eternally damningly wrong misinterpretation.
    Before we throw these teachers of the law under the bus, we must recognize we have the same faults. Sometimes, because of our hardness of heart, we cannot see God at work in the moment. Then because of our spiritual blindness we are unable to align ourselves with what God is doing right now. When this happens, we completely miss the point of the moment and the point of our lives.
    When we can’t see God at work in the moment, we miss the point of our lives, because our whole life – every moment, every experience is sovereignly crafted to make us more like Jesus.
    Romans 8:28–29 (NIV)
    And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.
    When we become more like Jesus, the Son of God, we are able, like Jesus to recognize the work our Father in Heaven is doing right now and join Him in His work. Jesus said,
    John 5:19 (NIV)
    “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
    Jesus’ relationship with the Father enabled Jesus to see and engage the will of the Father in each moment. Jesus said that our relationship with Him should be like his relationship with the Father, we are to be dependent upon Him in every moment to know what to do next. Jesus said,
    John 15:5 (NIV)
    I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

    The Crowd Sees a Miracle

    The evil thought in question with the teachers of the law is the thought that Jesus is merely a man – despite all the evidence to the contrary. Matthew records that Jesus has taught with beyond human authority, Jesus has healed the sick with beyond human authority, Jesus has controlled nature with beyond human authority, and Jesus has defeated Satan and his evil hosts with beyond human authority. In addition to this, Jesus has been confessed as “God with us” by an angel of the Lord, as “My Son” by the Father, and as the “Son of God” first by Satan and then by demonic hosts.
    I think Matthew is making the point that there was sufficient evidence available to the crowds and the teachers of the law for them to receive by faith that Jesus was the Messiah, Emmanuel – God with them. Jesus certainly thought this to be the case that is why Jesus confronted their blasphemous thoughts with this question:
    Which is easier to say . . .
    A. Your sins are forgiven? Or
    B. Get up and walk?
    At one level, the answer is obvious. It is easier to say “Your sins are forgiven” because no one could see if forgiveness occurred. On the other hand, it is harder to say “Get up and walk” because anyone can see if that happens or doesn’t happen.
    At another level, Jesus is making the point that both are impossible for a mere man. In effect, Jesus is saying, let me make this easy for you guys. So that you will know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, which is something only God can do; I will give you a visible sign right before your eyes, I will heal this paralyzed man, which is, also, something only God can do. The Son of Man title would have recalled to the teachers of the law how the prophet Daniel described the Son of Man,
    Daniel 7:13–14 NIV
    “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
    Jesus, The Son of Man, said to the paralyzed man, “get up, take your mat and go home.”
    This man obeyed Jesus and in his obedience was his healing. If the man had said, “I can’t get up.” There would have been no healing. Not only did Jesus work in the man’s body, but the Holy Spirit had worked faith in this man so that at Jesus’ command the paralyzed man was willing and able to obey.
    At the command of Jesus, the paralyzed man got up – a healed man, a whole man in soul and body! This man left home a helpless invalid and returns home completely well in body and spirit.
    Once again, the crowd was amazed, but once again, they like the teachers of the law missed the point. Listen to how Matthew described them:
    Matthew 9:8 NIV
    When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.
    1. They were filled with awe. That is to say, the crowd had feelings of respect and reverence toward Jesus. This is good.
    2. They praised God. This is good.
    3. Who had given such authority to man. This is close but misses the point. As they say, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
    The whole point is that Jesus is a man, but Jesus is so much more. Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is the Son of God and the Son of Man who forgives sin. Already in Matthew’s Gospel there is sufficient evidence to draw that correct conclusion and anything less than a correct conclusion concerning Jesus is a damningly wrong conclusion.

    How We Can Help Others See God at Work

    We live in a world where everyday people come to damningly wrong conclusions concerning who Jesus is and what he can do. Despite the historical record, some people think Jesus is myth not a real person, Contrary to biblical teaching some people think Jesus was simply a good moral teacher. Against all the evidence of the lived experience of billions of persons over the last two thousand years, some people think Jesus has nothing to offer them or the world in our times.
    What can you and I do about that? We can do what this paralyzed man did. Being forgiven and healed he picked up His mat and walked home. What did the man do when he got home with his family? He did what Jesus told the demon possessed persons on the other side of the Galilee to do. He told how much God had done for him. He told his family that Jesus had done for him what only God could do.
    He told them how Jesus forgave his sins. He told them how Jesus had transformed his deep suffering into an instrument of God’s glory. He told his family. He told his friends. He told His neighbors. He could not help but tell the story of how Jesus had done for him what only God can do. Jesus changed him into a new creation.
    You and I, our church family, can help others not make the mistake of missing God at work in their lives by telling our story. Our story is the same story of this paralyzed man.
    We were helplessly paralyzed by our sin. Jesus, in his own blood paid the penalty of our sin so that we are forgiven – healed in our spirit. As we have obeyed Jesus, He has turned our deepest suffering into an instrument for our wellbeing and for his glory.
    We join the great throng of helpless sinners through the ages who are forgiven, healed, and walking home reminding each other, telling our family, our friends, and neighbors “how much God has done for us.”
    What kind of man can forgive sins? This man is Jesus Christ, Emmanuel God with us, the Son of God and Son of Man who by the authority of His Word heals the sick, cast out demons, calms the storm, and, most of all, forgives our sins.

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