[sermon audio for streaming/download to come LW]
September 14, 2014 | P. J. Tibayan | Scripture: Matthew 8:1-17
First Southern Baptist Church, Bellflower
A big decision is in front of you this morning. I am NOT talking about the decision to vote on whether you think the Lord Jesus is calling me to be your pastor or not. That is a big decision. But it’s a smaller decision than the one this text presents. This text exalts the authority of Jesus. Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt 28.18). The big decision you must make today is, will you gladly submit to the authority of Jesus? As a church? As individuals? This text is not about a church vote today. It’s about denying yourself, taking up your cross, dying to yourself and your lordship, and following Jesus by submitting to his Lordship everyday because you know him and trust him and love him. We don’t like authority in our culture these days. That’s because we sinners have never liked authority any our culture in any day. Ever since Adam and Eve ate the fruit, we’ve struggled with being oppressed by bad and abusive authority: the devil, a government, a family member, a church leader, a political leader, a county worker or officer, etc. And we’ve struggled to trust good authority because it threatened our self-centeredness and personal desire for lordship: a parent, a government, a church leader, a political leader, or a county worker or officer. Adam and Eve didn’t trust God’s good and gracious authority. So we have two problems, there is bad and oppressive authority that we should reject. That problem is on the outside. Then we reject good and rightful authority because it threatens our autonomy and self-rule. That’s a problem on the inside.
What is authority? Authority is “the right to demand submission and obedience from others.” God’s authority is “God’s right to demand unqualified obedience from his creatures.” The only right response to good authority is submission. To submit is to “comply with the direction or commands of an authority figure.” When I say that God wants our “glad” submission, to submit gladly is to submit “enthusiastically and not grudgingly or primarily out of compulsion.”
We naturally do not like to submit to authority. Even as Christians. Sometimes we think we are more submissive than we are to authorities, but if we honestly look at it we might find that we submit because we do what we already want to do (which isn’t necessarily bad). The test of how submissive we are is to see how we submit when we’re told by an authority figure to do something we don’t want to do or something we disagree with.
All of us who have driven have experienced the sudden fear that overtakes us when we realize there is a police officer behind our car and we’re driving faster than we should be. Why do we slow down? Because we’re gladly submissive to the law? More likely it is the fear of a speeding ticket.
The key to the Christian life is to gladly submit to Christ because we trust his authority as good, not as something to ultimately be scared of. When we fail to submit to God it is tied to our lack of recognition of the authority and the goodness of God in giving us a command or direction.
So what we need is to gladly submit to Christ in his authority so that you can live the way God calls you to live. To do this gladly is not motivated by forcing ourselves to be glad. Glad submission comes from understanding the glorious reasons why we should submit. Matthew gives us 5 reasons to submit to the authority of Jesus Christ.
Reason #1: Gladly submit to Jesus’ authority because he is the Messiah (vv. 1-3)
“The miracles that Jesus performs attest who he is and the mission he was sent to accomplish” (D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount,158). In this passage we see 3 miracles that show us Jesus in his authority.
When He came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. Right away a man with a serious skin disease came up and knelt before Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Reaching out His hand He touched him, saying, “I am willing; be made clean.” Immediately his disease was healed. (Matthew 8:1-3 HCSB)
Story: Jesus comes down from the mountain after teaching the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7). Right away a man comes with a skin disease and kneels before Jesus asking him to merely will his cleansing. Jesus touched him, told him he was willing, then cleansed him. Immediately his skin disease was healed.
The skin disease is commonly called leprosy in the Bible. We can’t be precise in our understanding of the actual skin diseases they considered leprosy. The Jews abhorred it because the illness itself was reprehensible and because it rendered the leper and those who touched the leper ceremonially unclean. Lepers had to live in separate communities because they would make others ceremonially unclean. Some skin diseases are contagious and the leprosy of this day may very well have been. Lepers were obligated to shout, “Unclean! Unclean!” to warn everyone in the non-leprous community that they were a leper when near their presence.
This leper, not named by Matthew, believed Jesus could heal him if he simply willed it (v.2).
Instead of merely willing it, shockingly, Jesus touches him. It’s probably because the leper respectfully wouldn’t touch him. The leper had to be surprised, probably not being able to remember the last time he has felt the touch of another clean human being. It could’ve been years! Instead of Jesus’ becoming ceremonially unclean by touching the leper, the leper becomes clean.
So what’s the big deal? Jesus healed a man with a skin disease. Doctors do that with medicine often for many diseases. How does this point to his glorious authority? Good question. John the Baptist, when in jail, wondered if Jesus was in fact the Messiah. Jesus pointed out to us that his healing of these skin diseases are proof that he is the Messiah.
Matthew 11:3–5 (CSB) —3 and asked Him, “Are You the One who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” 4 Jesus replied to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: 5 the blind see, the lame walk, those with skin diseases are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news.
Jesus is the Messiah. The Messiah was the anticipated Son of David who would be the King of Israel and sit on the throne forever. He would restore Israel, God’s people, and their kingdom, as the supreme human kingdom in the whole world under Yahweh God. The Messiah was the coming King God would send to rule over all humanity with grace and goodness restoring to the world the peace and harmony that was in the garden of Eden before Adam ate the fruit and was expelled. If Jesus’ healing this leper proves he’s the Messiah, then it proves that he is your king and the King of all kings and ethnicities and people groups.
So we see in this story that Jesus heals those with skin diseases. Even more deeply he ceremonially cleanses those unclean before God. He cleans the unclean. Furthermore, his will happens. He wills for the man to be healed, and he is healed. This means that Jesus is the Messiah.
Application to FSBC Bellflower
Make sure this church as a church keeps Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, central to life, practice, direction, and plans of the church and ministries. He is the King. He has authority. He’s the Messiah, God’s king. The Holy Spirit lives in you as a church and guides you through the word to glorify Jesus (John 16.14). Jesus is the Chief Pastor of this church and the universal church (1 Peter 5.4). Everything has to be about Jesus, for Jesus, and according to the Word and Spirit of Jesus.
Reason #2: Gladly submit to Jesus’ authority because he fulfills the OT Law (v. 4)
Then Jesus told him, “See that you don’t tell anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed, as a testimony to them.” (Matthew 8:4 HCSB)
Story: After Jesus heals the man he gives the man 3 commands: (1) Don’t tell anyone; (2) show yourself to the priest in the temple; and (3) offer the gift Moses prescribed.
These commands are according to the instruction of Moses given in Leviticus 13. The priests declare the person with a skin disease ceremonially unclean or clean (vv. 3, 6, 8). Why did Jesus tell this man to show himself to the priest? One reason would be to obey Leviticus 13. Jesus not only fulfilled but obeyed the Old Covenant (instruction of Moses).
But there’s a deeper reason given at the end of verse 4. Why show yourself to the priest? “As a testimony to them.” A testimony (or “proof”) of what? A testimony that he was actually healed. Which testifies that Jesus actually healed him. Which testifies that Jesus is powerful enough to heal leprosy. This testifies that Jesus is the Messiah. Here, in this command, Jesus uses the instruction of Moses and the testimony of the priest to testify to the world and to us in Bellflower this morning, that Jesus has the power to heal those with skin diseases, clean the unclean, and at the very least you should seriously consider his claims about who he is. This law, this instruction, then, points to Jesus as the fulfillment of the Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures. The Old Testament points to Jesus in different ways, sometimes direcect statements, sometimes in types or models, and other times as part of a larger system that pointed ahead. Here, the leprosy declaration commands are used to point to Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promises.
Application to the Christian, FSBC, and the non-Christian Visitor
Dear Christian brother or sister, look for how the Old Testament points to Jesus Christ and see his glory through that. Read all of your bible to see the glory of Jesus, not just the New Testament. Put the testaments together. To be mature and fruitful Christians we must be biblical, listening to the whole Bible.
As the FSBC family, study both testaments and make sure you are continually learning to read how the Old Testament points to Jesus the Messiah. There was one church looking for a pastor where they put in the post: “We are looking for a senior pastor who preaches not only expositionally through both the OT and NT, but who also preaches in a Christ-centered manner.” That’s a good requirement you should be looking for and expecting here in this church as well.
If you are here visiting this morning, or maybe you’ve been coming regulalry for a while, and you are not a Christian, let me say, thank you for coming this morning. God has brought you here this morning for a reason. So think about this: Do you recognize that Jesus is the one promised in the writings about him, written about him from 1400 years before his birth? He is the promised one, promised by God in God’s writings, the Bible, long before he came. This means at the very least you should understand what the Bible says about him and what he and his followers claimed about him. I’ll give you the gist of it this morning as we continue.
Reason #3: Gladly submit to Jesus’ authority because when Jesus speaks, God speaks (vv. 5-9)
When He entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible agony! ” “I will come and heal him,” He told him. “Lord,” the centurion replied, “I am not worthy to have You come under my roof. But only say the word, and my servant will be cured. For I too am a man under authority, having soldiers under my command. I say to this one, ‘Go! ’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come! ’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this! ’ and he does it.” (Matthew 8:5-9 HCSB)
Story: Matthew takes us to another scene. Jesus is approached by a centurion (more literally through messengers according Luke 7). A centurion is “a Roman soldier who commanded about 100 soldiers” (HCSB bullet note). The Roman soldier sought Jesus in desperation. He probably developed a great relationship with his servant the way any natural long-term relationship has the potential to build serious concern and affection for each other. The centurion pleads with him to come heal his servant who’s at home paralyzed and in terrible agony. The centurion (again through messengers according to Luke) addresses Jesus as Lord. The soldier’s respect for a Jew is noteworthy. The conquered peoples were usually not as well respected as the conquering people (the Romans). Jesus tells him (in the form of telling his messengers) that he will come and heal him. For Jesus to agree to go shows his compassion. Can you imagine the demand for attention that the Lord Jesus received? The centurion then stops Jesus and says he is not worthy for the great Jesus to come under his roof. Jesus has authority over paralysis and pain to simply command the healing the way the centurion commands the 100 soldiers under him expecting immdiate obedience.
The Centurion understood authority. He speaks with the authority of the ones above to those below. To disobey the centurion is to disobey the soldiers over the centurion. And the one over the highest ranking Roman soldiers is the emperor himself. So to oppose the centurion’s authority is to oppose the emperor’s authority and really the authority of Rome itself. When the centurion speaks, the emperor speaks. And when the emperor speaks, Rome speaks.
In a similar way, he understood the words of Jesus to carry authority. When Jesus speaks, God speaks. And when God speaks, heaven speaks. And there is no way in heaven or earth that this paralysis would defy the God of heaven speaking through this Jewish carpenter who is also God’s Messiah. Jesus speaks with the authority of God himself and all of heaven.
Application to the Christian, FSBC, and the Non-Christian
Christian brother and sister, let the words of Jesus abide in you. Memorize Scripture regularly. Weekly. Schedule it into your life. If you fail to plan you’ve already planned to fail. And memorize God’s Words with your family and friends.
FSBC, if Jesus has spoken and still speaks through the New Testament and all of Scripture, you should hear him and follow his lead because the church is his church and he promised to build it. This means the priority for the church is to hear Jesus the Christ, the Messiah, speak. You should hear him speak all together so the church grows together under the word of Christ, because that is the word of God. The church should also listen carefully to what is taught and preached and check it by the Scriptures to make sure it is the word of Christ lest you end up rejecting the gospel! If Jesus is the Chief Pastor of this church, which he is, then you must hear his voice and recognize it as the voice of God. He said, “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me” (John 10.27). And the only response to that as a church is to trust and obey.
If you’re not a Christian this morning, it is very important to understand what we mean when we Christians say Jesus is the only way. We believe, as the Bible teaches, that if you don’t know God through Jesus Christ as he has revealed himself in the Bible and in history, then you cannot know God. It is popular today to have “faith” and be “spiritual,” but you cannot make your faith or spirituality valuable. It is worth whatever it is worth before God. God sets the value, not us. So if you are spiritual or a person of deep faith, I want you to know that Jesus and the Bible say clearly that apart from honoring Christ, you cannot know and honor God as he truly is. I understand this may create questions and I invite you to ask me or any of the church members and leaders here why we believe that.
Reason #4: Gladly submit to Jesus’ authority because it comforts the believer and terrifies the rebellious (vv. 10-13)
Hearing this, Jesus was amazed and said to those following Him, “I assure you: I have not found anyone in Israel with so great a faith! I tell you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus told the centurion, “Go. As you have believed, let it be done for you.” And his servant was cured that very moment. (Matthew 8:10-13 HCSB)
Story: Jesus heard the centurion’s statement and was taken aback. He was shocked. Amazed. Why? He hadn’t found faith as great as this in all of Israel, among God’s people who have God’s Word! So he tells him, “I assure you: I have not found anyone in Israel with so great a faith! I tell you that many will come from east and west and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (vv. 10b-12). Then Jesus healed the servant with a word that very moment (v. 13).
Some will recline at the table with Abraham in the kingdom. What will that be like? Like a great feast. A celebration. Jesus reigning supremely and perfectly. No more cyring, pain, tears, or death. Eternally increasing joy and closeness to God. We will see God’s face (Rev. 22.4). We will enjoy God and his people in the 1000 years of Revelation 20 and on the New Earth into eternity! Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus! The kingdom of heaven will be sweet.
But not all will be invited to this eternal celebration. Verse 12 says, “The sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Hell. Weeping and pain and death in the sense of separation from God and all his good gifts forever. Darkness. The wrath and judgment of God being continually and incessantly poured out. There will be hopeless desperation and desire for even one moment of relief. But they desire and wait in vain. The eternality of it all is that when you’ve been there 7 billion years, it’s as if you’ve just got there with the exact same amount of time to go, forever.
So what’s the difference between those who go to the feast in the kingdom of heaven and those who suffer God’s judgment in hell? The difference between those who go and those who do not is not how “good” they are, how much of the Bible or Christianity they know, where they are from, who they are related to, or how religious they are. What amazed Jesus? The centurion’s great faith. The difference is faith. And not just faith but who or what they place their faith in. Saving faith is the faith of the leper and the centurion, a faith that recognizes that they are in desperate need and that Jesus is the only sufficient answer to our need. You must recognize the authority of Jesus and hunger above all that Jesus might use such authority to help you in ways that you cannot help yourself.
Application to the non-Christian and FSBC
Dear non-Christian friend, will you trust in Jesus Christ this morning? He’s the only way into the kingdom of heaven. I invite you to trust in Jesus. I invite you to continue hearing from and learning from Jesus as you read and receive his words to you, the Bible.
FSBC, remember your mission in this world is to evangelize the lost. All of your meeting and giving and growing and choosing a pastor must be in light of this mission that feels the weight of heaven and hell for all those who live around us in Los Angeles county. We have news that Jesus is trustworthy to meet your needs, and your greatest need!
But how exactly does Jesus meet us in our need? He meets us with himself, his words, and his work, which we’ll think about in our last reason to gladly submit to Jesus’ authority.
Reason #5: Gladly submit to Jesus’ authority because it flows from his work on the cross (vv. 14-17)
When Jesus went into Peter’s house, He saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. So He touched her hand, and the fever left her. Then she got up and began to serve Him. When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. He drove out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick, so that what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: He Himself took our weaknesses and carried our diseases. (Matthew 8:14-17 HCSB)
Story: Jesus heals Peter’s mom in her house. Then she gets up to serve everyone until evening. When evening came he drove out the demon-possessed and healed the sick who were brought to him.
The point of the details of Jesus touching Peter’s mom is to show how effective and instantaneous is Jesus healing power. He only needs to exercise his authority and it is done. Jesus healed sickness. Sickness was believed to be connected with sin. Though not all physical sickness is connected with sin directly, all of it is a result of sin in this world and when Jesus comes it will all be taken away (Rev 21:4; 22:3). Some diseases God heals instantly, some he does not, but he is sovereign in choosing and is always good. The healing here and all healing are arrows pointing to the consummated kingdom when Jesus shall finally and pervasively reign. Even Jesus casting out demons from people points to his kingdom power. These miracles are not only performed out of power, but out of the fruit of his work on the cross that was yet to be completed. Matthew quotes the prophecy of Isaiah where Jesus takes our weaknesses and carries our diseases. But where and when did he take our weakness and carry our diseases? Isaiah 53, where Matthew gets this quote, is a chapter talking about the Messiah suffering and dying for the sins of others bearing the judgment of God. All healing from sickness, all freedom from demonic oppression, all forgiveness of sin which causes these ills, was accomplished on the cross of Jesus Christ.
A Word to the Non-Christian
Jesus Christ came to save his people from their sins it says in Matthew 1:21. God made us and created us for himself. We as humans have rebelled and sinned against God. We are sinners by nature and by choice. And the penalty of sin, the wages of sin, is death. Eternal death in hell. But God, in his great love and grace sent Jesus to take our weaknesses, carry our diseases, and be counted as a sinner so that we can be forgiven of our sins and reconciled to God! Jesus died for our sins! God is now calling all of you to be reconciled to him. Turn from your sins and from your own righteousness, repent, and trust in Jesus Christ, his righteousness, life, death, and resurrection for you! He died for your sins but has defeated death in his resurrection. Please turn to Jesus. Call on him to save you!
All the blessings of our lives are tied directly to the atoning death of Jesus. Not just forgiveness. Healing. Health. The healing problem is that some think we have a right to be healed ALL the time and if we are not it is because of our lack of faith. Others believe that there is no physical healing right now but only when the kingdom consummates. The biblical balance is that healing comes now at times as a privilege and application of the cross, but no one lacks a glorified body now on earth because of missing faith. It is not time yet. The guarantee is for all of us later with some benefits to be enjoyed now as God deems fit whether “miraculously” or through normal means.
Application to the Christian
Brother or sister in Christ, see all of Christ’s authority as function of the cross-work of Jesus Christ. All authority given to Christ by the Father in Matt. 28:19-20 is because of the cross-work of Jesus, the eternal Son of God. Why should we gladly, enthusiastically, and incessantly work to submit our lives to the authority of Jesus? Because his authority is the authority purchased and displayed by him sacrificing himself to bring us to God! It’s not the oppressive or selfish authority of a tyrant, but the loving and generous authority of the Servant-King.
So you must gladly submit to Jesus authority beccuase he is…
- Fulfillment of the OT
- Speaking for God
- The way to eternal bliss
- The one who made the atoning sacrifice
Do you gladly submit to this glorious person named Jesus? Do you bow before him with humility and seek his grace when you fall short? Do you trust in his grace enough to obey him? Do you give him the credit when you do obey and are moved to love God more?
Bow gladly to our King, and because of who he is and what he’s done, obey him gladly in everything.