Matthew Lesson #6
Good Questions have groups talking
I am thinking of an exercise where people get in touch with what it feels like to be blind. Blindfold one or more (all?) of the people in your group and have the experience what it feels like to be blind.
Sign up here.
Jill has had a hard life. She was married to her high school sweet heart. Later he was called to ministry and she followed him to seminary. After graduation, he took a church and all seemed well for a time. Then, out of the blue, he told her he didn't love her any more. There was another woman. Divorce soon followed. The pain of rejection and loss left her almost suicidal. To make matters worse, her son was diagnosed with a Lupus.
Jill confides in you. She can't believe God would let all this happen to her. What do you tell her?
1. It was the evening of this memorable day. Jesus is on his way home after having performed the miracle at the house of Jairus. Here two blind men, led by somebody, follow Jesus with the loud yell that he have mercy on them, is transitive. The exceptional feature is that they address him as "Son of David," a Jewish designation for the Messiah, bearing with it the conception of kingship and royal dominion. Jesus walks along the street and pays no attention to these petitioners. "Son of David," like "Messiah," bore a political significance to the Jews, one that Jesus did not want to foster in the minds of the people who would thus be moved to the attempt to make him a. political king. That seems to be the real reason why Jesus disregards these blind men on the public street. - Lenski New Testament Commentary - The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Gospel.
2. Jesus didn't respond immediately to the blind men's pleas, but they persisted, following Jesus indoors, right into the house where Jesus was staying. They knew Jesus could heal them, and they brought their request to him. - Life Application Bible Commentary - Matthew.
3. The question seems strange and almost cruel in light of the obvious determination of these men, who, in spite of their great handicap, had managed to follow Jesus for a considerable distance while contending with a great multitude of sighted people who also wanted to be with Him. The men had already acknowledged Jesus' messiahship by continually addressing Him as Son of David; and because Jesus knew their hearts, He was already aware that their faith in Him was genuine. His asking them about their faith must therefore have been for the purpose of drawing out a more complete public confession. "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord," Paul wrote, "and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved" Rom. 10:9. - MacArthur New Testament Commentary - Matthew 8-15.
4. Such a confession Jesus drew out of the blind men, and it became a public testimony to others of what is required for salvation. Yes affirmed their belief that He was able to do what they asked of Him, and Lord affirmed their belief that He was the divine Messiah, the coming Savior long promised by the prophets. - MacArthur New Testament Commentary - Matthew 8-15.
5. We don't now why. What we do know is that this is the consistent teaching of the Bible. Here is a great quote on this:
Writing about this passage, Archbishop Richard Trench commented,
The faith which in itself is nothing is yet the organ for receiving everything. It is the conducting link between man's emptiness and God's fullness, and herein lies all the value faith has. Faith is the bucket let down into the fountain of God's grace, without which the man could never draw water of life from the wells of salvation. For the wells are deep, and of himself man has nothing to draw with. Faith is the purse which cannot of itself make its owner rich, and yet effectually enriches by the wealth which it contains. (The Miracles of Our Lord [London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, & Co., 1902], p.212) - he - MacArthur New Testament Commentary - Matthew 8-15.
6. We may wonder why Jesus bade them refrain from all this. The reason doubtless was that He desired people to be impressed by His message rather than His works. He was while on earth the express image of the divine person (Hebrews 1:3)--that is, the exact expression of the character of God. The compassion He demonstrated for distressed mankind shows the heart of God as He looks on the sorrow and suffering that sin has brought into the world. Wherever the Lord went He delivered men from these evidences of Satanic malice. His miracles witnessed to the truth of His deity and bore testimony to His messiahship. Faith in the miracles saved no one, however. But faith in Him who performed them was then, as it is now, the means of salvation from sin and deliverance from its effects. - H. A. Ironside Commentary - Matthew.
7. Had Jesus given any encouragement to this popular sentiment among the masses, he easily could have had all the kingdoms of the world at his feet. All he had to do was satisfy the temporal appetites and curiosities of the people by his supernatural power. Such was the temptation presented by Satan in the wilderness when Jesus was urged to turn stones into bread and to cast himself down from a pinnacle of the temple that God might bear him up (Matt. 4:1-7; Luke 4:1-4, 9-13). These spectacular things would surely have excited the applause of the crowd. Satan was not offering Jesus anything when he promised him all the kingdoms of the world if the Master would only worship him (Matt. 4:8-10). The arch-deceiver of men knew full well that Jesus automatically would have this if he just turned his concentration from the things that mattered in the eternal Kingdom.
But Jesus would not play to the galleries. Quite the contrary. Repeatedly he took special pains to allay the superficial popular support of the multitudes which had been occasioned by his extraordinary power (e.g., John 2:23-3:3; 6:26-27). Frequently he would even ask those who were the recipients of his healing to say nothing about it to prevent mass demonstrations by the easily aroused multitudes. Likewise, with the disciples following his transfiguration on the Mount, "He charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen" until after his resurrection (Mark 9:9; Matt. 17:9). On other occasions when applauded by the crowd, Jesus would slip away with his disciples and go elsewhere to continue his ministry. - The Master Plan of Evangelism. Coleman.
8. Nothing is said of this man's faith, and no intimation is given of his salvation. As far as we know he made no profession of faith in Jesus and received nothing from Him except physical healing. Perhaps through the continued witness of his two friends, he may later have placed his faith in Christ and received eternal life. But at this time his healing seems only to have been physical. - MacArthur New Testament Commentary - Matthew 8-15.
9. An ominous countercharge mars Jesus' reception. This charge will be elaborated and Jesus will respond to it in 12:24-37. Lines are beginning to be drawn. The majority still side with Christ at least superficially. By the end of Matthew's Gospel, the majority will oppose him. Two possible relationships between faith and miracles have been illustrated. Sometimes faith can produce a miracle. Sometimes a miracle can produce faith. Verse 34 proves that no one can predict what will happen in any given situation. - New American Commentary - Volume 22: Matthew.
10. They were first cousins.
11. John is probably imprisoned in Herod Antipas's territory, in the fortress at Machaerus, east of the Dead Sea and thirteen miles southeast of Herodium --itself just south of Jerusalem (cf. Josephus, Ant. 18.5.2). Here Matthew notes only John's doubts, which lead him to send his followers to question Jesus. He has heard specifically of the works of the Christ (NIV lacks the article). The "works" presumably refer to Jesus' entire ministry thus far but focus specifically on his miracles as illustrated in chaps. 8-9. - New American Commentary - Volume 22: Matthew.
12. John the Baptist was in prison in the fortress of Machaerus because he had courageously denounced the adulterous marriage of Herod Antipas and Herodias (Luke 3:19-20). It seems that the Jewish leaders would have opposed Herod and sought to free John, but they did nothing. Their attitude toward John reflected their feeling toward Jesus, for John had pointed to Jesus and honored Him. - The Bible Exposition Commentary - New Testament, Volume 1.
13. These mighty deeds should have reinforced John's confidence in Jesus' messiahship. Why then does one who had such a high view of Jesus (3:11-14) now question him? Almost certainly the main answer has to do with John's languishing in prison. Why would one who had promised to free the prisoners (Luke 4:18) not get John out of jail? Most likely John also wondered why there were no signs of the imminent judgment of the wicked that he had predicted (Matt 3:10). In fact, Jesus' "messiahship" little resembled the political and military program of liberation many Jews anticipated (cf. John 6:15). "The one who is to come" [contra NIV "was"] repeats the title John had used for Jesus in Matt 3:11 (ho erchomenos). - New American Commentary - Volume 22: Matthew.
14. In Carlisle Castle there is a little cell. Once long ago they put a border chieftain in that cell and left him for years. In that cell there is one little window, which is placed too high for a man to look out of when he is standing on the floor. On the ledge of the window there are two depressions worn away in the stone. They are the marks of the hands of that border chieftain, the places where, day after day, he lifted himself up by his hands to look out on the green dales across which he would never ride again.
John must have been like that; and there is nothing to wonder at, and still less to criticize, in the fact that questions began to form themselves in John's mind. He had been so sure that Jesus was the One who was to come. That was one of the commonest titles of the Messiah for whom the Jews waited with such eager expectation (Mk 11:9; Lk 13:35; Lk 19:38; Heb 10:37; Ps 118:26). A dying man cannot afford to have doubts; he must be sure; and so John sent his disciples to Jesus with the question: "Are you he who is to come, or shall we look for another?" There are many possible things behind that question. - Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT).
15. Dwight L. Moody said that one of the happiest men he ever knew was a man in Dundee, Scotland, who had fallen and broken his back when a boy of fifteen. He had lain on his bed for forty years and could not be moved without a good deal of pain. Probably not a day had passed in all those years without acute suffering. But day after day the grace of God had been granted him, and when Mr. Moody was in his room it seemed as if he was as near heaven as he could get on earth. When Mr. Moody saw him, he thought he must be beyond the reach of the tempter, and he asked him, "Doesn't Satan ever tempt you to doubt God and to think that He is a hard master?" "Oh, yes," he said, "he does try to tempt me. I lie here and see my old schoolmates driving along, and Satan says, 'If God is so good, why has He kept you here all these years? You might have been a rich man, riding in your carriage.' Then I see a man, who was young when I was, walk by in perfect health, and Satan whispers, 'If God loved you, couldn't He have kept you from breaking your back?' " "And what do you do when Satan tempts you?" "Ah, I just take him to Calvary, and I show him Christ, and I point out those wounds in His hands and feet and side, and say, 'Doesn't He love me?' The fact is Satan got such a scare there nineteen hundred years ago that he cannot stand it; he leaves me every time." That bedridden saint of God did not have much trouble with doubts; he was too full of the grace of God. - Bible Illustrations - Illustrations of Bible Truths.
16. But there was more to his mission. When John the Baptist was perplexed about whether Jesus was really the Messiah, he sent word to him from prison: "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?" Jesus answered, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me" (Matt. 11:3-6). In other words, "All my healing and preaching are a demonstration of my messiahship, but don't take offense that I am not fulfilling the political expectation of earthly rule. I am the one who is to come, but my central mission (in this first coming) is suffering--to give my life as a ransom for many." What Jesus Demands from the World. Piper.
17. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me. Matthew 11:6 (NIV)
And tell him, 'God blesses those who do not turn away because of me. Matthew 11:6 (NLT)
Whoever doesn't lose his faith in me is indeed blessed. Matthew 11:6 (GW)
God will bless everyone who doesn't reject me because of what I do. Matthew 11:6 (CEV)
How happy are those who have no doubts about me! Matthew 11:6 (TEV)
And if anyone is not offended because of Me, he is blessed. Matthew 11:6 (HCSB)
18. Some Christians say, "You should serve Christ because you love Him, not to get a reward." That's only half right. We serve Christ because we love Him, but that's not all the Bible says. Jesus told us to lay up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20). The book of Hebrews says God "is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (11:6).
Christ Himself looked ahead to the reward that was before Him when He endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2). He anticipated the joy on the other side that made Calvary worth all the suffering.
Nobody works without expecting to be rewarded. When you have worked hard all year and done a good job, you hope to get a raise at your annual review. If you are a worthy candidate for a vacancy above you, you hope to get the reward of a promotion. This is a normal part of life--and of eternity too.
The classic example of striving for reward is Paul's statement of purpose in Philippians 3:7-14. The apostle capped this great passage with the declaration, "I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (v. 14). Paul was reaching for the biggest prize of all.
In fact, Paul not only sought eternal rewards, but he was confident he had gained his objective. As he approached death, Paul wrote, "In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day" (2 Timothy 4:8). Paul was eager to stand before the bema of Christ because he had fought the good fight.
What a way to die--not only knowing that you made it to heaven, but that you crossed the finish line as a winner who would receive the prize. So the purpose of the judgment seat is to evaluate our fitness for eternal rewards. - Understanding God - - The Best is Yet to Come: Bible Prophecies Through the Ages.
Sign up here.