Good morning. Let’s continue praying about the things that we listed yesterday. Josh, Ntsako, Nhlakanipho and Gary return from their trip today.
We now come back to the NT and continue looking at Jesus in the book of Matthew. We’ll recall that the book of Matthew is primarily about Christ the King and we see His Kingdom authority in this chapter. What’s going on here is that Jesus is offering the kingdom to Israel and He’s showing them what the kingdom will look like. Jesus, in this passage, is showing His authority over sickness, over men, over nature and and over Satan. We want to ask what Jesus is showing us. Is He showing us that this authority is seen today? Is He showing us that it is ultimately seen today and if not, when will it be? What comfort can we take from passages like this?
- Vv 14-17—what comfort can we take from Jesus’ authority over sickness?
- The key interpretation hinges upon v17 where Matthew clearly states that the fulfillment of Isa 53:4 is seen in Jesus’ healings. Today, many are interpreting this that Jesus’ authority over disease, demonstrated here, is still in effect today so that we can expect His healing hand in our own sicknesses. Is this a valid interpretation?
- I’m going to answer that by saying, “Yes” and “No.” Jesus does still have absolute authority over sickness. And we need to acknowledge that there is a sense that the atonement was not only to redeem us from sin but also from the curse of sin. The curse of sin includes both death and dying (the causes of death). This is a great truth. Not only does Jesus’ death deal with my soul needs but it also deals with my physical needs.
- But the answer is also No in the sense that the ultimate fulfillment is still future. As I understand prophesy, after the current Church age in which we’re living, there will be a 7 year Tribulation Period in which Satan will rule through the man we call the Anti-Christ. At the end of this period, Jesus Himself will come in the clouds, destroy the Anti-Christ and his army and rule on planet earth for 1000 years (see Revelation 19-20). At the end of that 1000 year reign, Satan will be loosed and will lead a final rebellion, be defeated and eternally placed into the Lake of Fire and Jesus will set up the eternal Kingdom of God in a new heavens and new earth—Rev 20-22.
- In each stage of these events we see the Kingdom of God increasingly clear. In the eternal kingdom, there will be no more death or dying and no more tears. Clearly by that point, death and the curse will be removed. The reason this can be is that the death of Christ has paid for our sins and for the consequences of our sins. So, in the eternal state, there will be no remembrance of the curse and we will enjoy perfect health for eternity.
- In the 1000 year Kingdom, people will enjoy a large degree of health. Isaiah speaks of people dying at 100 being accursed, meaning that the long lives we saw in the book of Genesis will become the norm. Death and dying won’t be absent from the 1000 year kingdom, but they’ll be rare. The death of Christ will make that possible.
- Today, we see death and dying all around us. But we must also acknowledge that God does put shields around His people. I don’t believe we can authoritatively say that Christians can expect to be kept from the Coronavirus, that’s simply not happening. I don’t think we can say that Christians will not die from the Coronavirus, that too is not happening. But what I can say, is that Christians will be ultimately kept from the curse of sin. We’ll all die, unless Jesus in our lifetime (which looks possible right now). But, as believers whose sins have been paid for, the curse of sin will be reversed and we will be given new bodies like his that can never again feel the effects of the curse. That’s the comfort we can draw from this.
- Vv 18-22—what comfort can we take from Jesus’ authority over men?
- It’s striking that in this passage, everything—disease, nature and Satan—obey the Lord unquestionably. The only thing that doesn’t do so is men. These two men are used as examples to teach what true discipleship looks like.
- The Scribe is used to show us that following Jesus will not necessarily be comfortable. Following one who has no place to lay his head may require us to have no home we can call our own. The ultimate kingdom is not now! Following Jesus may mean that we lose the comforts that we could have if we didn’t follow Him.
- The second man shows us that discipleship means that our relationships have to change too. Discipleship means that we put our relationship to Jesus above every human relationship—even what is the most natural of relationships. Jesus is to be a priority to my relationships with parents, spouse and children. We will take the same attitude He did towards His family. Those who hear and obey His word are our real family, rather than the natural family we all have. In some instances, the two will be the same, but where their not, Jesus must take priority.
- We gain comfort from this in that Jesus’ authority in my life will grow and He will continually conform me to His image. He’s working in me both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
- Vv 23-27—what comfort can we take from Jesus’ authority over nature?
- Again, as we put this into the context of this kingdom offer to Israel. I don’t think too many of us would treat the world around us as if we were in the kingdom now. When we go to Kruger we don’t play with lions or snakes. When we’re flying or in the ocean, we avoid the storms. We don’t think that we have dominion over those things.
- But one day, when Christ returns, that will change. We find out from Isaiah that his Kingdom will be one of peace (chapt 9) and that peace will include nature. The carnivorous animals will stop eating the others. Little children will play in areas that we would never allow them to play today because nature will be at peace.
- While these things frighten us today, they won’t then. We’ll be able to enjoy the creation without fearing it. I love to go to the Kruger Park, I love to go to the ocean and see God’s great creation. In the kingdom, when Christ rules, we’ll not only enjoy these things but we won’t have to fear them.
- Vv 28-34—what comfort can we take from Jesus’ authority over Satan?
- Again, there’s a sense in which Satan is being bound today. I think we see that in Matt 16 where Jesus says that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the church. But the ultimate binding of Satan will not take place until the kingdom is established upon the earth.
- Jesus has certainly provided for this time by crushing Satan on the cross—Col 1:14-16, but until Jesus comes to reign, we see Satan alive and active even as he was in these two men in Matthew’s account. But the day is coming when we won’t just see isolated instances of Satan’s binding; we’ll see him bound for 1000 years. And afterwards, we’ll see him forever removed from the scene. Our arch enemy is a condemned criminal, but he’s still on the loose right now. Never fear, the King of Kings will defeat him and will forever remove this threat from us.
- So how do we take comfort from these things? We’re not given personal assurance that we won’t get sick, that we won’t be hurt by nature or that we won’t be tempted by the devil, like Job. But we take encouragement in that, because Christ died for sin and its consequences, the day is coming when we will enjoy perfect health, peace with nature and absence from temptation. Even so, come Lord Jesus!
- What will you change as a result of our lesson this morning?
- I find myself battling fear and faith in regard to this virus. On one hand, I know that my Redeemer lives and that our times are in His hands. I know that while I’m not in control, He is and I can fully trust Him with this situation. But on the other hand, I find myself at times wanting to run away and hide. I know both Marie and I are considered high risk and I fear what can happen when we get sick.
- So, for me, I need to shift my focus from protection of myself today to the eternal kingdom of Christ where none of these things will ever be a concern again. I need to stop holding on to this life and embrace the next. Lord, help me.
Your Thoughts or questions?