The Healing Grace of Christ

Matthew 14:14

When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

The grace message is subtle, but you can hear it in this verse. Jesus had compassion on the people and healed their sick. In a previous verse (Matthew 8:16), it says he healed all who were sick.

Even has Jesus was fulfilling the Law, he didn’t require a person to be living perfectly under the Law for them to be healed. He didn’t go around and look for people who were walking in perfect obedience to the Law. That would have been impossible. Rather, he healed all that were sick because he had compassion on them.

Because of compassion, grace reaches through the Law to touch those in need.

Matthew 14:34

And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized him, they sent around to all that region and brought to him all who were sick and implored him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.

Again, people in need were drawn to him for healing. And, as many touched the fringe of his garment, they were made well. Healing came to everyone who sought it. Healing was not a result of their obedience to the Law, but rather, their faith or belief in Christ’s ability to bring healing to them.

He Who has Ears, Let Them Hear

Matthew 13:14-15

Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“You will indeed hear but never understand,
and you will indeed see but never perceive.
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
and turn, and I would heal them.”

I think in many ways, this is the message of grace today. Many people hear, but never understand. They see it, but don’t perceive it. It feels too good to be true. It seems like the easy way out. I understand this prophecy is talking about the bigger picture of God, heaven and the spiritual world, but many people reject God because they have not been demonstrated true grace in their lives.

A lot of people have rejected God or rejected the message of Christ. I have a friend who was raised in church but today he rejects any belief in God and calls himself an atheist. We’ve had long discussions about religion and faith and mortality. As with most people rejecting the notion of God, there was some anger in his voice. When talking about religion or how people have represented to God, I could see his countenance change. It him me one day during our lunch: he wasn’t rejecting God–he was rejecting a bad definition of God or a bad representation of God. His heart had grown dull towards God. He could see, but not perceive. He could hear, but not understand.

My new goal in life is communicate and represent God as he really is–that he loves people unconditionally, that what they do or don’t do will not influence God’s desire to love on them and spend time with them. The message of grace is that sin no longer separates us from God. He lives in us and with us all of the time.

Matthew 13:41-43

The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

In this scripture, Jesus is explaining to them the parable of the harvest that he told them in verses 24 through 30 of this chapter. The enemy came and sowed bad seed in the field of good seed. Jesus said let both of them grow and then at the harvest, the good and bad will be separated.

It’s interesting how he describes the bad seed and the good seed at the time of the harvest. The bad seed is “all causes of sin and all law-breakers” and the good seed is described as “the righteous” that will “shine like the sun”. It’s interesting to me that he didn’t call the good seed “law keepers”, but rather “the righteous”. What defines the good seed, those who are destined to shine like the sun in the kingdom of their father, is that they are righteous.

He again calls the good “righteous” in verses 49 and 50: “So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

To be good seed (or good fish), the key is righteousness, being right with God. How do you do that? This is what the rest of the New Testament defines–how we can become righteous.

Lord of the Sabbath

Matthew 12:1-2

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.”

Working on the Sabbath. This is probably one of Jesus’ most common accusations. He was constantly accused for “breaking the Sabbath”. He would do things like heal people (v. 9), tell someone to pick up their mat, or pick food from a field to eat. All good things, but according to the traditions of the Jews, this was classified as work, and was forbidden.

In the next few verses, Jesus gives them specific examples from the Law about how people would eat at certain times or certain foods that were forbidden in the Law, and how they would profane the Sabbath and yet remained guiltless. He basically called them hypocrites.

They were so concerned about the temple and yet they missed the fact that “someone greater than the temple” was standing right there in front of them (v. 6). And, that he was the “Lord of the Sabbath” (v. 8).

I remember growing up in a small town, and by in 70’s and 80’s, there was a state law that forbid most retail stores from being open on Sunday. It was called the Blue Law. I remember very specifically one Christmas season that WalMart decided to break the law and stay open on Sunday. The fine was $1,000 and the manager of the store was on the news and he said, “I will easily generate more profit than that, so I just write it off as an operating expense.” Things are quite different today.

So, is it a sin to work on Sunday? Is it a sin to “profane the Sabbath”? Is it a sin to go to the store and buy stuff on Sunday because you’re making other people work on Sunday?

The Pharisees placed more importance on following the laws of the Sabbath that they missed the Lord of the Sabbath. Jesus later says that we were not created for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath for us (Mark 2:27). He was saying that there is value in keeping the Sabbath. Resting one day a week is good for us. We need the physical, emotional and mental break. The Sabbath was created for us. If we choose to not slow down and work hard through the weekend, there will be natural consequences. But, it doesn’t take away from our relationship with God. He does not hold back from us if we are working on Sunday.

Matthew 12:28

But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

In this verse, Jesus is saying that he is casting out demons by the Spirit of God, and that it’s proof that the kingdom of God has come. It’s really interesting to note because the message of grace is that Jesus brought the kingdom of God to earth. We are now living in this age of grace where the kingdom of God is here now on the earth through Christ. Too often, we see the “kingdom of God” as heaven, but not now. “One day, in heaven, we’ll experience the kingdom of God.” But, I don’t think that’s accurate. Through grace, we have access to the kingdom of God right now, today, through Christ. He has made us worthy and righteous so that we can receive all that God has for us.

Matthew 12:32

And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t fully understand this concept of “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit”. It’s serious! It won’t be forgiven in this age or the age to come. So, what is that unforgivable sin? What does it mean to blasphemy the Holy Spirit?

In the Strong’s concordance, it defines “blasphemy” as a “vilification” of something. To vilify the Holy Spirit is blasphemy. I guess that’s to speak evil and associate with evil behavior. Not really sure.

Mathew 12:36-37

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

This could be terrifying if you think about all the “careless” words you have spoken. Will you be judged for them? Is he speaking to believers here?

A couple things to consider. First, remember that he’s speaking to those under the Law, not to those under grace. Secondly, he sums it up with “by your words”, you will either be justified or condemned. This is the two states I believe all of humanity faces. They are justified in Christ, or they are condemned in rejecting Christ. So, if you “confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord”, you are justified by your words and you won’t be judged for your “careless words”. But, if you reject Christ by your words, then you will be condemned and judged by those “careless words” that you’ve spoken. Grace says “In Christ, you are no longer judged because he took all your judgement upon himself.”

Knowing the Father as Christ Reveals

Matthew 11:20-24

Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Jesus makes a couple of interesting statements about these unrepentant cities who won’t change. They are being denounced “because they did not repent”. Remember that repent is metanoeo, which means change the way your think. It does not mean feel about what what you do and turn from your ways. It means change your thinking. Jesus was pointing out that these cities would not change the way they think.

What ways of thinking did they not change? It’s not really clear, but Jesus did say that “mighty works” had been done in those cities and their thinking didn’t change. When Jesus does mighty works, it’s to demonstrate that the kingdom of God was at hand. The Gospel was being demonstrated to them through these mighty works, but they still chose to reject Christ.

When Jesus talks about these cities, comparing Chorazin and Bethsaida to Tyre and Sidon, he said “it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.” And the same with Capernaum and Sodom. “More tolerable on the day of judgement.”

What is that judgement and why will it be more bearable? I don’t have all the answers, my here’s my speculation. Those cities before Christ (Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom) did not reject Christ. They rejected God’s law. Christ is the payment for all sin, and these new cities are rejecting their payment for sin, which means they will face a very serious judgement. The other, pre-Christ, cities will face a different judgement. I’m not sure what that is, but it’s different. It’s before there was any payment for sin.

Matthew 11:27

All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

This incredible symbiotic relationship between the Father and Son is really amazing. No one knows the Son except the Father. No one knows the Father, except the Son and anyone whom the son reveals him to.

Did you hear the incredible grace in that? Knowing the Father doesn’t require a bunch of work. While prayer, fasting, Bible study, and all those things are good, they don’t reveal the Father to you. Jesus reveals the Father to you. It’s all about him, not what you do. He is doing all the work for you. That is incredible grace!

Losing Your Life and Finding Your Life

Matthew 10:1

And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.

This is interesting to me because the disciples were given authority to cast out unclean spirits and heal every disease and affliction. And, this was all done under the Law. The authority came not from their keeping of the Law, but from Jesus who was the perfect keeper of the Law.

It makes me think about a law officer today. Not anyone can just go out and be an officer. I can’t just decide today that I will go pull people over and give them tickets. I have no authority to do that. Legal authority must come from the US government, the state of Colorado, Travis county or the city of Dallas. The governing authority are the only ones who can grant legal authority to individuals.

Christ, because of his ability to keep the Law, he was able to grant authority to whomever he wanted, so he gave his disciples authority over every unclean spirit and sickness.

Matthew 10:32-33

So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

I believe this is the salvation. This is the all that’s required. Deny or reject Christ, and you are forever separated from God. Receive and accept Christ, and you are forever married to God. It’s not what you do, it’s what you believe.

Matthew 10:37-39

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever 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.

It’s all about whom do you trust. If you trust in your mom, your dad, your children to save you, you are not worthy of Christ. If you do not take up your cross (dying to your own attempts to save yourself), you are not worthy of Christ.

Jesus sums it up best in this last line. If you try to save your life, you will lose it. But, if you lose your life for his sake, you will find it. True, eternal life is defined by what you trust in. You cannot trust in yourself, your ability, your efforts to please God. If you do, you will lose your life. True, abundant, eternal life comes from losing your life, never trusting in your ability to save yourself through your own efforts and abilities.

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