SUNDAY MORNING SERMON NOTES
The Power of the Mission of Jesus and How it Sanctifies our Lives With Divine Purpose
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Sunday, August 19, 2012 - 10:00 a.m.  Sermon #: 1584
Pastor Don Horban

Matthew 9:1-17 - “And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. [2] And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven." [3] And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, "This man is blaspheming." [4] But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? [5] For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'? [6] But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"—he then said to the paralytic—"Rise, pick up your bed and go home." [7] And he rose and went home. [8] When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. [9] As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, "Follow me." And he rose and followed him. [10] And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. [11] And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teach er eat with tax collectors and sinners?" [12] But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. [13] Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." [14] Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" [15] And Jesus said to them, "Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. [16] No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. [17] Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved."

So far we have looked at the authority of Jesus, the call of Jesus, and the compassion of Jesus. Today we look at why Jesus came, or the mission of Jesus. And the reason for this study needs to be clear in our minds. There is no saving value in loving Jesus for the wrong reasons. Not many people today despise Him. Most admire Him, but to no eternal benefit. If you love Jesus as a great teacher you will die in your sins. If you love Him as a great example or religious prophet, you will die in your sins.

To love Jesus worthily and glory in the gospel savingly it is essential to understand the mission of Jesus:

1) JESUS CAME TO FORGIVE AND TRANSFORM SINNERS

Matthew 9:1-8 - “And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. [2] And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven." [3] And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, "This man is blaspheming." [4] But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? [5] For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'?[6] But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"—he then said to the paralytic—"Rise, pick up your bed and go home." [7] And he rose and went home. [8] When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.”

This is more than just another healing miracle in the life of Jesus. There are some unique features that set it apart to teach what the heart of Jesus is all about. The telling verse is verse 2: - “And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.’”

Jesus doesn't seem to say what He should be saying in this situation. His words to the paralytic are totally unexpected. He looks at this man and sees two major problems where most of us see only one. And then He speaks first to the deeper, more difficult problem - the problem of sin.

“Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven”(2). Please notice something very important. Jesus implies that those words "your sins are forgiven,” will somehow bring great joy and blessing to this sick man’s heart (“Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven”).

If this paralytic sensed his need only at the physical level then those first words of Jesus wouldn't have cheered him at all. They would have been a colossal let down. Somehow Jesus perceives that this man needs more than just his legs fixed. Jesus perceives that he's been carrying a load of guilt that not only may have contributed to his broken condition, but has hounded his conscience and robbed him of peace in his heart. In short, Jesus wants to bring a miracle at two levels by dealing with the root cause of all of this man's problems.

Right away, the Scribes recognize that something is terribly wrong here. The scribes would know better than anyone else that only God has the right to forgive sin. They had poured over the words of David in their Scriptures from Psalm 51 - "Against You and You only have I sinned!” There it was. Sin was against God and only God could forgive it!

"This man is blaspheming!”(vs. 3). Clearly, they recognized Jesus was ascribing to Himself things that only God could do.

And as Jesus glances at the crowd he understands what's going on in their minds. He launches into an explanation that most of us today quite naturally miss - Matthew 9:5 - “For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'?”

That question seems to be a no-brainer. I know which I think is easier. "Your sins are forgiven” is much easier to say because it's not verifiable in the visible realm whether you have pulled it off or not. But if I say, "Rise and walk," people will spot me as a phoney in a minute.

But that's only because we live in a world where the whole concept of sin has gone out the window. People just don't think that seriously about sin at all. In fact most people don't think that sin exists in any absolute sense at all.

In Bible times it was very different. The scribes especially, knew that their Old Testament Scriptures were filled with people who performed miracles all the time. You know many of these stories yourself. There were those famous people - like Moses, Aaron, Elijah, Elisha, and many, many others. By God’s Spirit they performed many mighty works.

But the Scribes also knew something else. They knew that none of these would have dared presume to freely offer forgiveness of sins. The High Priest would offer pardon as God's mediator when the proper sacrifices had been offered. And even then, they followed all sorts of cautionary regulations and washings just to keep from being struck dead.

But Jesus went through none of these steps. He pronounced forgiveness like it was totally his prerogative to do it. He forgave sins just the way God himself would forgive sins - like it was totally His business.

No. Make no mistake about it. To everyone watching that day, Jesus was clearly doing the more difficult thing in claiming to forgive sins.

Then, because of their doubts, Jesus condescends to the realm of the visible miracle. He does so in order to prove His power to do the more difficult inward miracle of cleansing and forgiveness.

Then we come to these great mission words from Jesus’ own lips. Notice that He clearly explains His primary purpose in verse 6: “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"—he then said to the paralytic—‘Rise, pick up your bed and go home.’”

We learned earlier that Jesus ministered to others with a heart of compassion. And that’s true. But it wasn’t the only motivation. Here Jesus clearly heals to make obvious His primary mission to this lost world.

Matthew closes this incident by stating that the Scribes and onlookers, upon seeing the miracle, and understand Jesus’ use of it as proof of His ability to forgive sins, were afraid - Matthew 9:8 - “When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.”

Don’t be too shocked by these words. They make perfect sense. Rebellious, sinful people ought to be afraid in the presence of the one who can forgive sins. O, they glorified God, but they were also shown by Jesus so clearly that if their sins were to be cleansed and dealt with, they would have to be dealt with by Jesus himself. And the religious leaders especially weren't ready for that.

So get the whole picture of what’s happening here. These people now know they stand before the One to whom the guilt of their sins actually stands. They have to get forgiveness from Him. Jesus tells them all that His healing of this man is only being manifested to prove He’s the one who forgives sin.

And there’s still more here. This miracle also proves Jesus knows they’re all sinners. And Jesus sees there sins in a way no one else does. Make no mistake about it. This is a heavy moment indeed.

There’s more:

2) HE CAME TO REACH THE DESPISED AND REJECTED OF HIS SOCIETY

Matthew 9:9-13 - “As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, "Follow me." And he rose and followed him. [10] And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. [11] And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" [12] But when he heard it, he said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. [13] Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."

This follows logically from the last point. If you're going to minister to the needs of sinners you have to move among sinners. Even Matthew himself becomes an excellent case in point. Verse 9 says Matthew worked in the “tax booth.” That’s where he sat and took money from the people. Tax collectors were hated by the Jews for very good reasons. Most of them were crooks.

They were entrusted with certain authority by Rome and were left to get the money out of their fellow Jews however they could. Whatever extra they could squeeze out of some of the rich or soft hearted they would keep in their own pockets and pass the required amount on to Rome. They were seen as traitors by their fellow Jews.

Now look again at our text. Not only does Jesus call Matthew (9). He seems to arrange a get together, a party, for all the tax collectors and sinners in the area - Matthew 9:10 - “And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples.”

The Pharisees can't stand this. Their concept of holiness was that you were to leave "that type" of crowd totally out of the picture. Have nothing to do with them!

And it's in this context that Jesus offers one of the simplest and briefest statements about His ministry in all the Gospels - Matthew 9:12 - “But when he heard it, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.’”

Imagine the shock this must have been to their squeaky clean spiritual taste buds. "I didn't come to hob-nob with the healthy, righteous, beautiful people of your society. I came to get my finger nails dirty with the scruffy grubs you won't have anything to do with!"

Then He adds the ticker in verse 13 - “Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." The first part of this verse is a direct quote from Hosea 6:6. Jesus calls these self-righteous Jews right back into their own Scriptures. They know the words. Jesus says they need to go away - get alone with God for a while - and learn what those words mean.

They could probably quote the verse. But they were miles from living it out in their lives. “Learn what this means!”(13). We all need to keep this kind of learning alive in our busy hearts. This is the kind of learning from which godliness springs. We need to do this with everything we already know from God’s Word and long repeated years of Christian experience. We need to keep learning what bare Biblical principles mean in the way we work and play and eat and drink and raise families and eat and drink in a way that glorifies God.

I wonder how many times Jesus would tap me on the shoulder and say, “Don, I know you can quote these theological facts. But do you really get what they mean?”

This is exactly the point in Jesus quote from the prophet Hosea. Hosea was writing to a people who went through all the right religious routines. They kept the ceremonies meticulously. But their hearts were all off base. They were cruel and condemning. There was no mercy in their approach to others because they became proud of their own chosen standing before God.

We need to think about that. Because none of us thinks of himself as a proud boastful person. But that’s not the way to analyse inward pride. The way to spot inward pride is any attitude - usually never spoken out loud - that easily writes off anyone else as an equally deserving candidate of God’s love and mercy.

As always, when we forget about our own need of mercy before God we become hard and judgmental in our treatment of others.

As always, those who are the least merciful are themselves the farthest from receiving mercy: Matthew 6:14-15 - “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, [15] but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Then, in Matthew 18 Jesus taught that those who were conscious of having been forgiven much were the most loving and merciful. We all need to frequently re-evaluate how we look at sinful people in our world.

I know it’s very easy to just preach compassion and a relativistic type of lazy tolerance against sin. And certainly, Jesus would say to many of them, "Go and sin no more." But I also have to remember Jesus loves those people far more than many of us in the church do. Sinners are wicked and under God’s wrath. We can never stop proclaiming this hard truth just so we can be chummy with the unchurched.

But it’s also true that sinners aren’t our enemy. They are victims of the enemy. And we need to bring them home with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

3) JESUS’ MISSION IS TO EXERCISE A LORDSHIP THAT REALIGNS THE DISCIPLE’S LIFE AROUND HIS KINGDOM RULE

Matthew 9:14-17 - “Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?" [15] And Jesus said to them, "Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. [16] No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. [17] Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved."

It is a terrible and very common mistake to limit salvation to just the initial step of conversion. Salvation is not limited to getting saved. It extends to the total life of the disciple. In other words, I’m not yet done with salvation just because I’ve been saved many years ago.

In each of the pictures offered in these verses there must be deep preparation made for the changes Jesus will bring or disaster will be the result. Consider new wine in old brittle wine skins. As the new wine ferments, gases are given off. The old skins are too brittle to allow for the expansion. They burst. The same general lesson is made from the new patch sewn into an old garment. The new patch will shrink and pull away from the time worn garment.

The lesson? Jesus just won't fit into the established, settled routines and patterns of anybody's life. The life He brings radically alters the container in which it lives. That’s what Jesus is saying. He makes everything new or He makes nothing new at all. The new life is everything or it’s wasted.

When you entered the Christian life did you allow for all the recreating of life that Jesus always brings with Him? Are you allowing for it now? Or is spiritual transformation leaking out at the seams of your life?

There are some check-up questions. Does sin bother you because you see it as personally offensive to God? Or is it just the pain it brings that bothers you? Do you feel compassion for dirty people or disgust? Are you still trying to patch Jesus into some of your old life or has He really taken over?

This is where Jesus two images of the wine and the patch pack their punch. Jesus is painting pictures to show us the natural tendency to resist and pull against the life of the Spirit. It’s like new wine in old wine skins and it’s like a new patch on an old garment. Stress is always set in motion when Jesus deals with our lives.

We used to sing, “Into my heart. Into my heart. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. Come in today. Come in to stay. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.”

Even the tune and pace was soothing and relaxing. But when Jesus comes in, how does He come? We talk so much about inviting Jesus in that you would think it’s a bit like hugging a soft teddy bear. But what is it like when Jesus actually comes into the skins of our lives? What does His coming in mean to the person who likes watching trash in the media? What is His coming in like for the person who feels inclined to homosexual inclinations? What happens when Jesus comes in to the person who gets his greatest thrill from material possessions? What does Jesus do when He comes into the heart of a person who has filled up his life with social networks and friendships that have zero interest in following Jesus Christ as Lord?

And Jesus is telling His church He’s no cuddly teddy bear. He completely bursts old priorities and affections or He doesn’t come in at all.

What I’m saying is this. Get this principle. Use every opportunity to stay pliable and freshly moulded to the image of God. Never stop listening to the Spirit. Embrace times of inner tension and stress as the Spirit’s new life creates all sorts of tensions with the life you’ve grown accustomed to. Those times aren’t only feel difficult. If you give the Spirit His way, they are unspeakably precious!