How to Improve Your Vision: Matthew 9:27-31

Today’s Reading: Matthew 9:27-31
There was a story on the news one night about a man who could echo-locate. You know like the way bats do. He was born blind. They way he got around was by making a sucking “Click” sound. You can find the article here. Basically he claims that he can “see” better than anyone else. Think about it, if you and he were in a completely pitch black room with obstacles to traverse. Who do you think would be safe? Of course, then blind man.
Jesus encountered two blind men while He was traveling. The ironic thing about this is that the men recognized Jesus as being the “Son of David”. How did they know? It’s not like they recognized His voice or remembered a picture of Him. They simply BELIEVED that the man approaching WAS Jesus, the Son of David. Being called the Son of David was taken to be meant in the sense of the Davidic covenant that the Messiah would be a descendant. So by calling Jesus Son of David they were recognizing Him as the promised Messiah. Jesus calls this FAITH and by this He touched their eyes and healed them. But then Jesus tells them NOT to tell anyone. Do you think that they could have kept it a secret? How long do you think they contained their emotions? That’s right! They went right then and spread the news about Him.
What if something miraculous happened to you, how long you contain yourself? What if you were blind and then a person touched your eyes and now you could see? Wouldn’t you go out and tell everyone you could find about it? Of course you would! You wouldn’t want anyone to miss out. 
You know you did experience something miraculous. You were blind and now see. So what are you waiting on? Go spread the News about Him!

What would you do to get to Jesus? Matthew 9:18-26

The following is an article from Wikipedia:

According to Wikipedia*, “Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis (July 1, 1818 – August 13, 1865) was the Hungarian physician who demonstrated that puerperal fever (also known as “childbed fever”) was contagious and that its incidence could be drastically reduced by enforcing appropriate hand-washing behavior by medical care-givers. He made this discovery in 1847 while working in the Maternity Department of the Vienna Lying-in Hospital. His failure to convince his fellow doctors led to a tragic conclusion, however, he was ultimately vindicated.

Semmelweis realized that the number of cases of puerperal fever was much larger at one of his wards than at the other. After testing a few hypotheses, he found that the number of cases was drastically reduced if the doctors washed their hands carefully before dealing with a pregnant woman. Risk was especially high if they had been in contact with corpses before they treated the women. The germ theory of disease had not yet been developed at the time. Thus, Semelweiss concluded that some unknown “cadaveric material” caused childbed fever.

He lectured publicly about his results in 1850, however, the reception by the medical community was cold, if not hostile. His observations went against the current scientific opinion of the time, which blamed diseases on an imbalance of the basical “humours” in the body. It was also argued that even if his findings were correct, washing one’s hands each time before treating a pregnant woman, as Semmelweis advised, would be too much work. Nor were doctors eager to admit that they had caused so many deaths. Semmelweis spent 14 years developing his ideas and lobbying for their acceptance, culminating in a book he wrote in 1861. The book received poor reviews, and he responded with polemic. In 1865, he suffered a nervous breakdown and was committed to an insane asylum where he soon died from blood poisoning.

Even as Jesus made his way to touch a dead girl, he came into contact with another threat to his ritual purity. According to Old Testament law, a woman having her monthly menstrual period was unclean for seven days, and anyone who touched her would be unclean “till evening” (Lev. 15:19-33). This woman, with her continual bleeding, would have been considered continually unclean, and was probably a social outcast. She acted boldly to come into close contact with a revered teacher. But she also limited her action, touching the edge of his cloak to minimize the likelihood of making Jesus unclean. In fact, she did not even want Jesus to know she had put him at risk.

This woman was another of the desperate, helpless people cataloged in Matthew 8-9. She was willing to go beyond the bounds of culturally acceptable behavior to draw on help from outside herself.

What would you do to get to Jesus? Would you go against the norm? Cultural barriers? What would you do about telling someone about Jesus? Would you go against the norm? Cultural barriers?

Are you Lamenting or Celebrating Jesus? Matthew 9:14-17

Today’s Reading: Matthew 9:14-17
The original intent of a fast is to mourn or to lament. This was done usually after a loved passed away or when a catastrophic event took place in the city or country. They would deny themselves food to concentrate on the promise of God for a deliverer. If you had ever fasted before whether by choice or not, you have experienced a dependence on Provision. We have all kinds of distractions that keep our focus away from God and to do that we forget His promises. 
John’s disciples and the Pharisees fasted because they were waiting/lamenting the fact that they were still without their DELIVERER. So when the disciples of John came to ask Jesus why didn’t His disciples fasted they were in a way asking if He was the One that John talked about. 
Jesus uses an interesting illustration. During a wedding, if you haven’t noticed, there isn’t anyone lamenting (ok no bad and corny marriage jokes). Everyone is celebrating. They are celebrating the Joining of two individuals by an ACT of God. If the groom were to be taken away from the wedding then the celebration would stop and lamenting would commence. 
Jesus also uses the illustration of a patch and a wine skin. First, if a new patch were to be sewed onto an old garment then as soon as it was washed then the patch would shrink differently and the garment would be ruined. Same with the wine-skin. If new wine was put into an old wine skin then it would ferment and expand causing the old rigid wine-skin to burst. Both were illustrations showing the listeners that the teaching of Jesus was incompatible to that from the Pharisees. 
Think about this as your day goes on; Are you Lamenting Jesus? Or are you Celebrating Jesus? Are you still “waiting” on Him? 

The Call of Matthew: Matthew 9:9-13

One day I received a call from a person whom I recognized. He was trying to pull a prank call on a random number and dialed mine coincidentally.
“Is you refrigerator running?” he said.
“Phillip? Why do want to know about my refrigerator?” I answered.
“How do you know who this is? Who is this?” he answered with a puzzled voice.
“You called me remember? How do not know who you called?”

Jesus had just left the house in which He healed the paralytic man and saw a man who was a tax-collector. He said two words to him. “FOLLOW ME.” That must have been enough because Scripture records that he got up and followed Him. We do not know the background story but we know that Jesus simply spoke a few words and Matthew obeyed.
Jesus is then seen sitting with other tax collectors (likely Matthew’s friends) and other “sinners”. Tax-collectors have always received bad raps from people and it was no different in this day. They were considered “cheats”, “sinners”, “traitors”, and just plain dirt. They were the ones that collected money that was sent to the Empire as taxes. Often the collectors would take more than what the citizens were required to give. This is why they were not looked on with favor.
While reclining and hanging out with these type people, Jesus was approached by the Pharisees. They pointed out that He was in the presence of these people and enjoying their company. This was done possibly to sway the disciples away by discrediting Jesus. But Jesus answered back: “Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. Go and learn what this means: I DESIRE MERCY AND NOT SACRIFICE. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Jesus was giving his disciples an example of evangelism and I would suspect that Jesus was evagelising the house. You see it is one thing for Christians to gather around and worship God and enjoy fellowship. It is another to actually GO OUT and “hang” around sinners and be the reflection of Christ. It is sinners that need the grace and MERCY of Jesus. Everywhere we turn we can find soemone who needs Jesus. Have we adeqately told them about Him?
Homework for today;
1. First, do what Jesus said and find out what is meant by “I DESIRE MERCY AND NOT SACRIFICE” from verse 13. You may have to dig a little into Scripture.
2. Next, find someone who doesn’t know Jesus and strike up a conversation with them and ask God to provide a way to turn the conversation into “spiritual” things. Then start by telling how you came to know the Lord. Yes your testimony.

The Faith of Friends: Matthew 9:1-8

Today’s Reading; Matthew 9:1-8
Have you ever seen the commercial that shows people seeing the good deeds of another person then doing one themselves? One person sees another open the door for a mother that has her hands full. Then that person pick up something that was dropped by another. Then so on and so on.
Jesus finishes His trip across the sea and ended up into His own town. First thing that happens is a group of people carrying their friend stops Him him and scripture doesn’t record them saying anything. In parallel gospels they record that the friends went so far as to tear the roof up and lowered the man.
Matthew writes that Jesus saw the faith of the FRIENDS. Not anything about the paralytic. What we can learn in that we must realize that our faith or lack of faith has an impact upon the lives of others.

Know Jesus or No Jesus: Matthew 8:28-34

Today’s Reading: Matthew 8:28-34

If Jesus were to pass you by in your normal life would you recognize Him? I mean if you were at work and Jesus is walking around in the background, you catch eyes with Him and He waves, would you know that it was Jesus at all? Chances are probably not. You couldn’t know that it was He if you never met in person. Our passage today accounts of two demon possessed men that recognized Jesus for exactly who He is. “What do You have to do with us, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?” They called Him “Son of God”! They know exactly WHO He is! and they tremble at the thought of the coming Judgement.
If the demons know and tremble so much how much more should we? What if we were given a choice to follow Him or face the same Judgement? That’s right! We do have a choice. But it is much more than recognizing who Jesus is. It is following Him and making Him our Savoir by accepting His sacrifice for our sins. The demons do not have this offer of grace, hence they reason they tremble. They know Him just like we know Him but do not follow.
Have you you made this decision? You can know all there is to know about Jesus and be like the demons OR you can intimately KNOW Him! If you have not please do not hesitate to make this commitment now.
If you have made this commitment then who have told?

The Only True Airbender: Matthew 8:22-27

Today’s Reading: Matthew 8:22-27

Ok, so I admit I like watching Blackbelt Theater. IF you don’t know what it is, it is basically Chinese made movies that have kung-fu and a fantasy type story-line. These were quite popular during the 70’s and early 80’s. More recently, a movie called “The Last Air-bender” was out in theaters. It is about a boy who could manipulate air but supposedly could also manipulate water, fire, and earth as well. The story goes that the fire-country was taking over and this boy was still learning how to move water. I will not spoil the ending for you if you decide to watch it.
In today’s passage, we pick up from yesterday and remember that Jesus was getting into a boat to escape the crowds that was forming around Him. A short time after that He goes to a part of the boat and starts to take a nap. Well, just then a storm rises up which was common in this area and it was tossing the boat around quite violently. Get this… the disciples had to WAKE HIM UP!!! During my time in the Navy, I took a cruise on a Amphibious Assault ship and sailed the North Atlantic. It too is known for high waves sometimes up to 50ft. Unlike Jesus, I was awake through the night for fear of my life. I could relate to the disciples very much. They were scared for their lives and were a little irritated that Jesus was still sleeping.
Then there is Jesus’ reaction. “Why are you fearful, you of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea. And there was a great calm.” He was still trying to teach them how to have faith. Even after this the disciples were amazed at His power and said “What kind of man is this?—even the winds and the sea obey Him!”
We go through bad times in our life and we can call our storms. Sometimes we go through them but we can be assured that Jesus is still with us. Think about this; there were other boats in the area that could easily set sail and get close to Jesus. Maybe He sent the storm to get away for a while to get some rest?
The bigger point and application is this. Sometimes Jesus sends storms in our lives so that our faith could grow. The disciples has the Creator of EVERYTHING in the boat and they still felt like they were going to die. When they saw Jesus speak to the wind and waves and they obeyed they got a glimpse of the stories of their own heritage when Moses spread his arms to split the Red Sea to allow the deliverance of the nation of Israel. That same power that separated the seas was the same power that calmed the sea.
Today as you go about think about some times that you were in one of life’s storms and how God spoke to the elements and brought you through it.

Jesus and the Paparazzi Matthew 8:18-22

Today’s reading; Matthew 8:18-22

Jesus just finished with a healing service that probably lasted all night. Picture it… people from all over the country that have traveled MILES just to see, and hear Jesus. People brought Him sick and diseased people. Imagine listening to Jesus teach and everyone around you is probably coughing or has open sores. Kinda gross huh? Now finish the thought with Jesus healing everyone. Do you think that He would have some people that would want to follow him wherever? OF COURSE!!! In fact, Jesus had so many people around him that he could barely move. So he gets into a boat just to distance Himself a little.

As He was getting into the boat a scribe, yes the same scribe(s) that Jesus was rebuking earlier, came and made a statement. He said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you will go.” First, he called Jesus a TEACHER. By doing this he acknowledged that Jesus has authority and coming from a known scribe (they were known for being very knowledgeable in Scripture) was extraordinary. 
I love Jesus’ reply: “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” WHAT?!?!? You mean that Jesus was refusing to have him follow? Not at all!! Jesus was merely trying to put things into perspective for him. He was telling the scribe that following Him was not going to be easy. Although while food and clothing are physical necessities for human survival, an established home is not. However, part of human emotional make-up is a strong drive for the security of a home. Jesus’ demand for his followers was not impossible, but it was lofty enough that only the most committed would accept it. We are not told whether the scribe followed Jesus or not.
Next we see that another person that was ALREADY following Jesus said that he must go and bury his father. Jewish tradition was that the eldest son was responsible for the care and burial for the parents. This came from the commandment to “Honor thy mother and father.” It was not known whether his father was dead already or not. It took one year from the time of death to fully bury a corpse. This was so that the bones, that were in the care of the eldest, could be placed in an estuary. 
Jesus’ reaction? “FOLLOW ME, and Let the dead bury their own dead.” Jesus saw this tradition and the way the disciple used it as an excuse. There is no excuse. 
Bottom line and thought for today;
Although it is no easy task to follow Jesus there is no excuse not to. What are some hindrances to FULLY follow Him? 

What is it about the Healing Touch? Matthew 8:14-17

Today’s Reading: Matthew 8:14-17

I have heard it said that the touch from another human is like a healing touch. We crave to be touched as if we need to be accepted and consoled. If you have ever noticed when a person is sick in the hospital and they see a loved one, they will reach out to touch them.

The religious leaders in Jesus’ day were known to never touch a woman because they did not want to find themselves defiled and unclean if they were in their menstrual cycle. But Jesus often found Himself touching people, man or woman, to heal them. He was not afraid of defiling himself because it was impossible. Jesus could not be defiled if he made the disease leave.

In this passage Jesus went to Peter’s house. He saw his mother-in-law who had a fever. He touched her and the fever left. And the scripture says that she got and started to serve Him. Later that evening, people were bringing to Him demon-possessed and sick people. The contrast is that He spoke to the demons and touched those who were sick. I do not believe that this was Jesus only mode of healing people, however, it is significant that He spoke directly to the demons because He had authority over them. He touched diseased people because of the compassion and desire to make people whole.

Today meditate on the fact that Jesus has authority over our weaknesses and diseases. He is able and willing to make us whole.