Lord & Messiah

In the life of a believer, there is a time when the Lord births a desire to grow Closer. Mind you this is not a one-time occurrence. No, the Lord invites us to draw near and learn, to grow spiritually as we mature in our faith. Many of you probably grew up singing, “Just a closer walk with Thee, Grant it, Jesus, is my plea, Daily walking close to Thee, Let it be, dear Lord, let it be…” As we arrive at Matthew 12, Jesus Christ is confronted by Sabbatarians, who desire to lay burden not relief, as Christ reminds us serving the Lord is not work, rather an act of worship. 

Messiah’s intrigue has brought mixed emotions to the promised land. Some willingly leap in faith, clinging to Christ, while others who portray civility rejected Him, malfeasance hatched in schemes of subterfuge. Matthew 12:14~But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him. (ESV) Their railing accusations all the more diabolical, as the search for an opportunity to set their evil in motion. Our Lord’s response to their raging protest and allegations reveals at least two actions required for us to draw Closer: Submit, Scrutinize.

Let’s begin by looking at how we submit to the Holy Spirit (Matthew      12:22-32) Now the Holy Spirit prompts us to follow after Jesus Christ. He says to us, here is evidence, follow the Way of Christ. As we follow we participate in doing good. In our pericope, we find that Ole Someone has returned. Ever had someone show up, lay an incident at your feet and force a response. Someone does just that to our Lord, only this incident is a person in need. An individual held bound under Satan’s power. He has been led in captivity his whole life. Eyes blind to the things of God, and dumb to the throne of grace; he sees nothing, says nothing, for Satan, has blinded the eyes of faith and sealed up the lips of prayer. Thus when Christ Jesus heals the man, he is able to see and speak. 

The crowd gawks, ogling the miraculous spectacle. Matthew 12:23~And all the people were amazed, and said, Can this be the Son of David? (ESV) Now the title Son of David is like saying this is the Messiah. Yet many gathered, are confused, for Messiah is to be a king, serving as a priest, who prophesies. Yet, Jesus was born in an everyman condition, so everyone would be able to relate to Him. Jesus simply does not fit the mold of many people’s minds. He is simply not, what they were expecting. 

As you reflect today on your relationship with the Lord? Perhaps you thought that life would have in some way, been different. This may mean that you thought Jesus was one thing when in fact He is someone different. I want to encourage you that Christ is the greatest gift we could ever receive from God. And His one true desire is to help us invest our whole lives in an eternity long relationship. This means from time to time we must lay aside our thought of God and His plan for our lives and the journey we are on and allow Him to reshape us. This is what He does for Jeremiah in Jeremiah 18:2~Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message. (NIV) Take some time this week and allow God to remake your mind, life, even the image you have of Him. And remember, you are the joy set before Jesus. (Hebrews 12:2)



Boldly

Where will you take the Gospel today? (Matthew 12:15-21) We are told, yea, even commanded to take the Gospel out into our to our lost and hurting world. As we take the Gospel and share its power, what we discover is that we are affirming our commitment to God. Christ Jesus came to share the Gospel with people, knowing that He would pay the ultimate sacrifice for humanity. He was fully aware of the Pharisee’s plans to lay hold of Him and kill Him. Not even halfway through the Gospel of Matthew and they are already plotting to do just that here in Matthew 12. So, Jesus leaves the area and many people follow Him. Moved with compassion He heals the sick as He warns them to keep it to themselves. Jesus is not seeking fame and doesn’t want to be known only as a worker of wonders. What He wants is to stay on God’s timetable. We often forget that God is seldom early, never late, but always on time. One of the things the life of Christ reveals is how Jesus walks in step with the Father’s timing. 

Matthew records His fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah in Isaiah 42:1-4. Matthew 12:18~Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. (ESV) Matthew 12:19~He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; (ESV).

Matthew shares how God has appointed Jesus to walk in the anointing of the Holy Spirit, who empowers Jesus to perform miracles. (John 3:2) Taking time, Christ Jesus proclaims justice to the Gentiles also. Saying what God desires is for all people to come and have a personal relationship. John 4, shares how Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well, He is the Messiah, and she receives Him in faith. (John 4:7-30) Listen to what she then does in John 4:39~Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, He told me everything I ever did.” (NIV) Still drawing from Isaiah’s portrayal of the Messiah, Jesus wastes no time fussing or carrying on, He is about His Father’s business. Our role is not to stir-up controversy, to fuss and carry on with others. We are to simply tell people about Jesus and allow the Holy Father to draw them. John 6:44~No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. (NIV) The Father draws, the Holy Spirit convicts and Jesus saves. 

This is why Christ Jesus came to earth. 1 Timothy 1:15~Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst. (NIV) Matthew is foreshadowing what lies ahead for Jesus. Matthew 12:20~a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; (ESV) This means Jesus will help the weak and the helpless, as well as those of little faith. I have found myself in each of those three conditions. Weak, helpless, and at times crying out like the father in Mark 9:24~…I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief! (NV) Jesus stands in clear contrast to the legalism, cruelty, and abandonment of the spiritual leaders of His day. Jesus stood for victory.

When he came out of the grave, when He again revealed, when He ascended to the Father, while He makes intercession for us, Jesus is sharing His victory. And one day real soon Messiah’s justice will prevail, despite heathen, unrepentant sinners, Jesus is the victorious King. When Jesus takes His place as King of kings and Lords of lords at the end of the age, it will be the final fulfillment of Amos 5:24~”But let justice roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (NIV)

Who will you tell, about Jesus, today? When Jesus finishes His quote from Isaiah here in Matthew 12:21, He tells us go tell the Gentiles. The world Gentiles can literally be rendered, nations. Our Lord’s final words on earth before amending to heaven in Mark 16:15~Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. (NIV) Again I ask, to whom will you tell, about Jesus?



Fruit Bearing Season

In the church, we are told that we are to abound in love (Matthew 12:9-14). What does that mean? Well, it means that we are to do good. Love is the fruit to which all other spiritual fruit hangs, and love always reveals itself in mercy and compassion, not legalism. Love and compassion are behind every one of God’s commands. God wants three things to be true in our lives. He wants us to be holy, joyful, and healthy. Anything that makes one of those things true in our lives, without violating one of the other two, is ok. Watch as Jesus enters the synagogue. Matthew 12:9-10~He went on from there and entered their synagogue. And a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—so that they might accuse him. (ESV) 

Now the New Testament does not require us to observe the Sabbath, which is Friday night to Saturday night. Instead, after His resurrection, Jesus’ followers worshipped on Sunday, the first day of the week. Paul tells the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 16:2~On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. (NIV) Sunday is the first day of the week, the day most Christians gather to worship because that is when Jesus was resurrected (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2). Jesus understands. I bet most of us have had ulterior motives in asking questions to God. But listen, we will never trap or trip up the Lord. So Jesus says in Matthew 12:12-13~…it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath…And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. (ESV) Jesus Christ brings wholeness.

If only the Pharisees had been unbiased in their study of God’s Word, they would have known what God requires of them. Micah writes about this in 6:8~He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (NIV) The Lord doesn’t want to consume our stuff, what He wants is a personal relationship. He wants to walk with you just like He did with Adam. Think about how the God of Creation wants to spend time with you. He wants you to live in an atmosphere of holiness, abounding in love. That means our fruit stands are stocked in abundance. Our lives are teeming with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Where we are walking daily before the Lord. 

Today, take time to look at, consider and even work on your fruit stand of life. As a discerning connoisseur who inspects the fruit of others, how does your fruit look? Spend some time asking God to help you and prepare you for those who will be coming across your path of life. I bet the Lord is waiting for you just to ask.