Jesus My Powerful Friend

By Sean Gooding

Matthew 9:1-17 (continued)

“Jesus got into a boat and crossed back over to the town where he lived. Some people soon brought to him a crippled man lying on a mat. When Jesus saw how much faith they had, he said to the crippled man, ‘My friend, don’t worry! Your sins are forgiven.’ Some teachers of the Law of Moses said to themselves, ‘Jesus must think he is God!’

But Jesus knew what was in their minds, and he said, ‘Why are you thinking such evil things? Is it easier for me to tell this crippled man that his sins are forgiven or to tell him to get up and walk? But I will show you that the Son of Man has the right to forgive sins here on earth.’ So Jesus said to the man, ‘Get up! Pick up your mat and go on home.’

The man got up and went home. When the crowds saw this, they were afraid and praised God for giving such authority to people. Jesus was leaving, he saw a tax collector named Matthew sitting at the place for paying taxes. Jesus said to him, ‘Come with me.’ Matthew got up and went with him. Later, Jesus and his disciples were having dinner at Matthew’s house. Many tax collectors and other sinners were also there.

Some Pharisees asked Jesus’ disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and other sinners?’Jesus heard them and answered, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. Go and learn what the Scriptures mean when they say, ‘Instead of offering sacrifices to me, I want you to be merciful to others.’ I didn’t come to invite good people to be my followers. I came to invite sinners.’

One day some followers of John the Baptist came and asked Jesus, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees often go without eating, while your disciples never do?’ Jesus answered: ‘The friends of a bridegroom don’t go without eating while he is still with them. But the time will come when he will be taken from them. Then they will go without eating. No one uses a new piece of cloth to patch old clothes’

The patch would shrink and tear a bigger hole. No one pours new wine into old wineskins. The wine would swell and burst the old skins. Then the wine would be lost, and the skins would be ruined. New wine must be put into new wineskins. Both the skins and the wine will then be safe.”

Last time we ended our discussion with the people of the Gadarenes asking Jesus to leave their country. He had just finished releasing some men from their possession by demons and the town`s people rather than welcoming Him, the one who had quelled their fears, asked Him to leave. It is so sad when this happens; it still happens today in so many places.

Jesus reveals himself to a people either through the preaching of the Word or via some other way and in fear they reject Him rather than humble themselves before Him. Too many still ask Him to go away from their homes, their schools, their businesses and ultimately their lives. This must break Jesus ‘heart, he loves us so much. I am sure that He left the Gadarenes slowly, hoping that they might change their minds.

The Power to Forgive Sin, Verses 1-8

Jesus has the power to forgive your sins. This is the most important thing you will ever learn in your life. Jesus has the power to forgive your sins. You might say, man you are just repeating yourself and you are right but you need to hear it, understand it and accept it. ONLY Jesus can forgive your sins.

Jesus left the land of the Gadarenes and crossed back over the sea into Capernaum. We are told in Matthew 4: 13 that this is the town where Jesus lived. So home he went and soon He was back to doing what He came to do; healing the masses from their disease and sins. When you reject Jesus you simply open a door for someone else to get what you could have had.

people of the Gadarenes could have had the power of Jesus at their disposal so that their sick and maimed could be restored or maybe even had their dead raised; but they rejected Him. So here He is in Capernaum healing the sick and helping people.

In this town they brought the sick to Jesus and asked Him to heal them.In this case, there was a crippled young man on a mat. Jesus simply forgave him his sins.This was more important that the physical healing because what good would it be to enter eternity with your body intact but your soul in tatters. Jesus dealt with the most important issue first; the man`s eternal destiny. Then He healed his body.

Now of course Jesus knew what would happen and I am sure that He made sure that the teachers of the law heard Him say `Your sins are forgiven. Immediately they chimed in, “Only God can forgive sins.” Many people claim that Jesus never claimed to be God, however it is clear that He thought he was God, since only God can forgive sins.

In verse6 He actually states that He, the Son of Man, has the right or the power, referring the His authority to forgive sins.This is huge. NO OTHER MAN has ever had the authority of God to forgive sins.No, not even the Pope or the Arch Bishop, NONE but Jesus can forgive sins.

The crowds here in Capernaum reacted differently than the ones in the Gadarenes, they too were afraid but their fear led them to praise God not reject Him. As I mentioned last week, there is a fear that leads to rejection and a fear that leads to reverence; these people had the right kind of fear. What kind of fear of God do you have? Does yours lead you to rejection or reverence? I hope reverence, I hope that you will not reject Jesus like the people of the Gadarenes, you are simply cheating yourself and those that you love of His power, presence and plan for your lives.

The Power to Love Sinners, Verses 9-13

God cannot be in the presence of sin. Even in His relationship with Moses in the wilderness, a relationship where God spoke to Moses, face to face, as a man speaks to a friend, Exodus 33:11, Moses could not see the whole “Shekinah” glory of God.He was only allowed to see the back of God.Isaiah saw God “high and lifted up” and he immediately became physically weak and fell down.So for God to meet man where he was and to truly be an advocate for him God would have to come to man, since man could not come to God.

Jesus bridged the gap between sinful man and the Holy God. He was a man, limited like we are as men. He walked everywhere or went by ship; He became hungry, tired, thirsty, needy and lonely.He was a real man.BUT He was also the real living God.So He could spend time with sinners and the lost sheep of Israel and the cities around Him.One of these lost sheep was Matthew, the writer of this gospel.

Matthew was a tax collector, a most hated position in that day.Fundamentally tax collectors had a minimum tax to collect for the ruling Roman government. They could collect any amount that they wanted but they had to pay the Romans a set amount. Thus tax collectors where often thieves; I am not sure if Matthew fell into this category but nonetheless as a tax collector he would have been despised by his own people because he was viewed as one who extorted money from his blood for the enemy.He would have been wealthy and hated.

We are told in the Gospel of Mark about the same event, in chapter 2:13-17, and we find that Jesus did in fact go to Matthew’s home, and other tax collectors were eating with Him.We are told in the Mark account that “many were following Him.”So not only did Jesus call Matthew that day, it would appear that many of Matthew’s peers came to know Jesus as Savior as well. What a day for rejoicing and celebrating.

Sadly those who try to get to Heaven by keeping the Law cannot and will not appreciate God’s loving Grace. Instead they are appalled that Jesus would eat with sinners. God ate with sinners. The Holy God came to Matthew’s home; He sat, ate and talked with them.He would have smiled at them and made them feel welcomed, loved (some maybe for the first time since they became tax collectors). He would have eaten bread and maybe some fish or some meat with them. They would have listened to all He had to say and that night the name of Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, would have meant something to these people.

This same God wants to be with you.He wants to come to your home, to your job, to where ever you are and to sit and eat with you.This is called fellowship.God wants to fellowship with you. Yes, you and I, sinners, can have friendship with God in Jesus.Do you believe?Stop trying to get to Jesus on your own, you sins are too many.Let Jesus forgive them and He will come to your home and eat with you.

The Power to Be Our Friend, Verses 14-17

We read the accounts of the great men in the OT and we might wonder if we can ever have those kinds of relationships with God? The answer is yes, we can. The disciples of John the Baptist recount how they often went without food, fasted, while John as alive and they also mentioned that the Pharisees, the leading religious sect, often fasted, yet Jesus’ disciples did not fast. They never went without food. They were amazed at this, why did they not fast like other religious sects?

Jesus offered a simple answer using the picture of the Bridegroom. His friends don’t mourn for him when he is there with them. They mourn when he is gone away. Jesus then is the bridegroom, the NT church His bride. But don’t miss a very important fact; Jesus calls His disciples His friends. God cannot be ‘unequally yoked to anyone’, He, the Holy God, cannot be tied in any way shape of form to a sinful person.

We find these strong words in 2 Corinthians 6:14-17:

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”

This is of course is primarily talking to us about the issue of marriage. But it is a spiritual principle; God does not associate with sinners. He does not join himself to them. He does not partner with them. Yet here is Jesus calling the apostles His friends.In Him we can be the friends of God as well.

This means we, are no longer “unbelievers,” no longer “unrighteous,” no longer in “darkness,” no longer “with Belial,” no longer “infidels” and no longer a “temple of idols.” Rather we are God’s friends in Jesus.What greater honor would you have than to be a friend of God?This is the ultimate honor, to be known as God’s friend.

Oh what power Jesus has, He created the worlds and all that is in them, John 1:1-3.Yet here we see what His true power was about it was about reconciling sinners to God. It was about tearing down the great wall between us and the kingdom of heaven and it was about restoring God’s friendship with mankind.

This is power even greater than the power to create; it is the power to re-create a fallen people. I am one of these fallen people that He has re-created. I am one who needed my sins forgiven, one who needed to be loved by God like I have never been loved before and I am honored to have Jesus as my friend.

Is He your friend?

Let Him forgive your sins, let Him love you and let Him befriend you for eternity.

“No one has greater love than this; that someone would lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

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