Category Archives: Sermon Notes

These are sermon notes of Pastor Hemen and you are welcome to read, use, and copy and paste them, however, please give credit where credit is due. Remember, these articles are copyrighted by Pastor Lee Hemen © 2008 and the property of Pastor Lee Hemen. You are welcome to copy it, email it, or use it but please if you copy it, email it, or use it you must do so in its entirety.

Paralyzed! — Matthew 9:1-8

Paralyzed! — Matthew 9:1-8
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 18, 2019

We can become paralyzed by different things in life. Fear of the unknown, disease, not knowing how to act, or many other things can cause us to be paralyzed in life. But when it comes to sharing our faith about God we should never be paralyzed. Our duty is to share the love of God when we are given the opportunity by the Lord and never be fearful of the outcome.

Here in Matthew’s gospel we read about an incident that occurred when Jesus heads back across the Sea of Galilee and enters his own home town of Capernaum. Some men or perhaps some friends bring to Jesus a man who is paralyzed but we soon discover that the real paralytic were those who should have acted in compassion but were more concerned for their outward piety than for the man who needed forgiveness. Let’s discover what it means to be paralyzed…

READ: Matthew 9:1-8

We can become narrow-minded and forget God is always at work around us. And here in Matthew…

I. We learn that we should act out of faith not fear! (Vv. 1-4)

Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!” Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?

  1. After healing a demon-possessed man Jesus isn’t done. He then “stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town”. Jesus returns to Capernaum which is now called his town because after leaving Nazareth, he made Capernaum his Galilean home. Matthew often is very straight forward in describing events while others are often more descriptive. It’s a matter of personal choice in their writing and nothing more. We learn that as Jesus is ministering from his home in Capernaum “Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat.” The same incident is described by Mark in that “Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. (Mark 2:4 NIV)” Matthew relates that “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.’” Some have argued it was the friend’s faith Jesus saw but I believe it was the entire group’s faith. The four men’s willingness to help their friend and the paralyzed man’s yearning to be healed and allowing his friends to take him to Jesus! Some think that because of this incident that if we do acts of kindness God will respond, but this is not the case at all. Remember, Jesus “saw their faith” which meant their willingness to believe he was the Messiah and could heal their friend. And because of their faith Jesus tells the paralytic “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Now Jesus is not teaching that this man’s illness was caused by his sin, but rather Jesus knew and understood who was nearby because when Jesus forgives him “some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, ‘This fellow is blaspheming!’” While the friends and the paralytic could see Jesus was the Messiah, the blind teachers of the law did not. “Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, ‘Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?’” These men should have been the ones who immediately saw Jesus for who he was, the promised Messiah, but they did not. Instead they were focused on their narrow vision of what constituted faith: ritualistic adherence to the Law of Moses. The four men overcame their fear and brought their friend, the paralytic overcame his fear and let them, but the teachers of the law could not overcome theirs. We learn that we should act out of faith not fear!

  EXAMPLE: Herbert Lugt writes that “I agree with the statement ‘Faith chases out fear, or fear chases out faith.’ But I also know that no believer is immune to panic or terror.” Recently I was nearly forced into oncoming traffic by another driver who turned into the wrong lane next to me. Being caught in a major earthquake can cause panic even to believers. Those who have survived intense bombing attacks say that anyone who claims he wasn’t afraid at the time is either a liar or a fool. Lugt notes that “It is not a sin to feel panic or terror in a life-threatening situation.” We need to remember:  “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. (Psalms 56:3 NIV)” We learn we should act out of faith not fear!

Holding one’s head up high whenever we feel afraid is okay but here in Matthew…

II. We discover that faith casts out fear! (Vv. 5-8)

Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” Then he said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” And the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.

  1. The teachers of the law were so caught up in their traditions and following strict rituals they had forgotten who God was! We see this today with religions that place strict adherence on ritual, regulations, laws, or ceremonies on their people instead of teaching them about the love of God. There is comfort in ritual because it is a personal act one does in order to appease God and so one can mark off their list of duties that they have done so. So Jesus turns their strictness on them and asks, “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?” Jesus knew it would have been impossible for them to forgive the paralytic’s sin and not just because they were not God but because they could not force themselves to overlook their strict adherence. They believed the man deserved his suffering because either his parent’s had sinned or he had; which of course was not true! And they did not have the power or the faith to give the paralytic back his ability to walk! They were quick to call Jesus a blasphemer but were helpless and unwilling to help the paralytic in any way possible either. They were afraid to step out of what they had practiced for personal piety for so long. Jesus bluntly responds to them, “‘so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…’ Then he said to the paralytic, ‘Get up, take your mat and go home.’” Can you imagine the looks on the faces of the teachers of the law? Sucking sour persimmons would have produced better results! Like little old ladies stuck in their sowing circle of threading gossip and mischief these self-promoting pious men were caught with the pompous security down. And to their self-righteous horror “the man got up and went home”! Mark relates that “He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’ (Mark 2:12 NIV)” and Matthew tells us that “When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.” The crowd understood what had occurred. The paralytic and his friends understood what had occurred. But the teachers of the law were still blind in their faith and it is here we discover that faith casts out fear!

  EXAMPLE: There are a lot of people afraid to travel by air. Many know what the statistics say—that they are safer in an airplane than in the family car. But that doesn’t matter. Researchers say that a conscious fear of crashing is usually not the problem. The real root of their anxiety is the fear that they will lose control of their lives once they leave the ground. A similar crisis of faith may occur when a person puts himself in the care of God. He too is carried a long way from what the world considers ‘solid ground.’ Trusting an invisible Lord can be frightening, especially for a new Christian.” However, we discover that faith casts out fear!

Conclusion:

We learn that we should act out of faith not fear! We discover that faith casts out fear!

This article is copyrighted © 2019 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

A silk purse out of sow’s ear! — Matthew 8:28-34

A silk purse out of sow’s ear! — Matthew 8:28-34
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 11, 2019

The idiom “You can’t make a silk purse out of sow’s ear” means that one can’t make something good out of something inherently bad, however, with enough ingenuity it is possible to make a very passable “silk” purse out of a sow’s ear. In 1921 Massachusetts industrialist Arthur D. Little (who discovered acetate) obtained glue made from the skin and gristle of pig’s ears, and had it filtered and forced through a spinneret into a mixture of formaldehyde and acetone. The glue emerged as 16 fine, colorless streams that hardened and then combined to form a single composite fiber. Little soaked the fiber in dyed glycerin. Then he had the resulting thread woven into cloth on a handloom, and the cloth fashioned into an elegant purse.

There are certain individuals who are seen as unredeemable by society at large. And here in Matthew’s gospel we find several men who were considered such by their peers. The other synoptic gospels of Mark and Luke relate that it was only one man, but the number is unimportant because what happens to the unredeemable is far more interesting. In fact we discover Jesus making a “silk purse out of sow’s ear” spiritually so-to-speak. Let’s discover what happened…

READ: Matthew 8:28-34

I have always found it curious that silk is made from the web of a worm but then again we discover…

I. Silk can be found in the strangest places! (Vv. 28-29)

When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”

  1. The area is Gadarenes in Matthew, and Gerasenes in Mark and Luke. The simple explanation of this difference is that Gadarenes and Gerasenes are different names for the inhabitants of the same large district, so called from Gadara and Gerasa, two cities of that region; while Gergesenes is the name of the people of a smaller district within the other, and named from the city of Gergesa. It was an area that wasn’t often visited by pious Jews because of its inhabitants. Yet, “When [Jesus] arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him.” We find it difficult to come in contact with the mentally-ill or drug-addicted homeless person who is aggressive but Jesus comes face-to-face with two demon-possessed men! Again there are those who try to lessen this incident by proclaiming they did not know about the mentally ill and would refer to them as “possessed”. While this could be true, I am quite certain Jesus knew the difference being God and all and we discover that they were indeed possessed individuals. And in fact we find that “They were so violent that no one could pass that way.” These two men had a reputation and folks were probably unlikely to willingly go the way Jesus and his disciples did so as not to confront these men but isn’t interesting that Jesus does just that? He deliberately goes where these deranged demon-possessed men lived. We see why folks were reluctant to go by the tombs where these men were because they shout to Jesus “What do you want with us, Son of God?” Sin does not like to be exposed and often gets angry at those who live lives of godliness because their lives are seen for what they truly are in stark contrast. Plus these guys knew who Jesus was. They immediately go on the defensive and demand “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” Isn’t it interesting that demons readily admit there will be a day of reckoning but we often can’t bring ourselves to admit that there will be such a day? An “appointed time” where both sinful mankind and those demonic forces are judged? Yet in all of their brash, harsh, and loudness Jesus sees them for who they truly are: men in need of a Savior. Silk can be found in the strangest places!

  EXAMPLE: Haddon Robinson asks, “When you think of the term evangelism, what picture flashes onto the wall of your mind? A large stadium filled with people? A small booklet with a set of diagrams? A Christian wearing a pin with the symbol of a fish? A zealous believer playing intellectual chess with a pagan opponent? A salesman convincing a reluctant person to ‘try Jesus’?” Evangelism isn’t about being a huckster who cons people into buying what they don’t need. It has nothing to do with grabbing people by the lapels and shoving faith down their unsuspecting throats. “Evangelism is simply sharing with others what we know about Jesus. No tricks. No deception. Speak the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth—in love. Then leave the results with God.” Why? Because if we share like Jesus did we will discover that silk can be found in the strangest places!

Isn’t it interesting that the web of an ugly worm is dyed and made into some of the most beautiful garments and it is all because…

II. Silk is woven best by the hands of a master! (Vv. 30-32)

Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water.

  1. Sometimes convenience, coincidence, or circumstance dictates how we respond. And perhaps this was the case here. But I think not. This region was inhabited by non-Jews, gentiles, who raised pigs. It just so happens that “Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding.” I have wondered if sheep would have worked instead of pigs but the irony is found in it being pigs. In the Hebraic mind and in ours as well, demons deserve no better receptacle than a porcine repository. We discover that it’s as if they know what’s coming so “The demons begged Jesus, ‘If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.’” If he drives them out, of course he will. The whole scenario is set up for this moment. Jesus was there in that area for these men so they could be freed from their imprisonment. The demons were going to find a different abode whether they liked their new found accommodations or not. So in this instance Jesus grants a demonic request and “He said to them, ‘Go!’” I have found it kind of humorous how often today’s theatrics enters into the made up power of God at the hands of those who claim to have it. Arms are waved, specific intonations are made, and catch phrases are used in order to gain the attention of the unsuspecting audience. In some incidences they are even provided a sound track and dramatic lighting. It’s all about the show. But here it was all about the men who needed rescuing. With a simple word from God (Jesus) the demons “came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water.” They drowned. It was perhaps the first cured ham. I guess they were the pigs who couldn’t do anything but what God (Jesus) commanded. Herein is the truth of this situation: Jesus was in total control. From where he sailed, the storm that brought them to this shore and where he decided to walk that day. The men who ran out under the influence of demons were now face-to-face with the Son of God. They understood his power and Jesus was weaving a tapestry that would be told over and over of how these demon-possessed men were rescued by the Son of God! Silk is woven best by the hands of a master!

  EXAMPLE: An artist was once falsely accused of a crime and thrown into prison. Although allowed to take his brushes and paints with him, he had no way of obtaining a canvas. One day in desperation he asked a guard for something to paint on. The guard picked up a dirty old handkerchief and tossed it to him. He retorted, “There, see what you can do with that soiled rag!” The artist painted on it his concept of Jesus’ face. He thought he would show it first to the man who had given him the dirty rag. When the guard looked at the beautiful image he was moved and tears welled up in his eyes. The painting became famous. If one man could take an old, soiled rag and make it a masterpiece, just think what the Master Artist could do with your life. Silk is woven best by the hands of a master!

If you look at a silkworm under a magnifying glass they look terrifying and grotesque but here in Matthew’s gospel we discover that…

III. Sometimes silk frightens those who need it most! (Vv. 33-34)

Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.

  1. You may think it strange but not everyone likes it when people are cured, and especially when they are saved. Those who have had drug-addicted or alcoholic spouses often become co-dependent emotionally and spiritually to their addicted spouse and have a hard time adjusting to what a normal life with them should be like. The same is true for a family member who turns to Jesus and is changed. It was true for my life. My family struggled with it until they realized that God had done something they could not explain and came to grips with the fact. And it is true here in this incident as well because we find that “Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men.” You would think they would have been happy, excited, or even a bit curious at the sudden cure of the two men. However business can overcome curiosity and when a whole heard of pigs is lost to a community that depends upon the porcine productivity of the local farmers this was indeed frightening. Add to this that there were demons and drowning involved! We do find that “Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus.” But it wasn’t to praise him or to thank him for what had occurred because instead “when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.” Years ago I had a woman whose husband had come to Christ and was dramatically changed beg me to “change him back!” Of course I could not nor would I if I could. Just like we find with the Gadarene townspeople we find that sometimes silk frightens those who need it most!

  EXAMPLE: “You can’t make me!” the youngster vehemently declared. She needed to take her medication but adamantly refused because she had choked on a pill before. All she could remember is the pill getting stuck in her throat and how it had made her gag. But the pill was necessary in order for her to get over her pneumonia. It can be quite disconcerting when your child refuses to do something that you know is ultimately good for them. Knowing that they will be okay is not comforting to the child in such circumstances because it can be quite frightening. Yet a good parent will persist because even though it may frighten the child, they need their medicine to get better. Here we learn that sometimes silk frightens those who need it most!

Conclusion:

Silk can be found in the strangest places! Silk is woven best by the hands of a master! Sometimes silk frightens those who need it most!

This article is copyrighted © 2019 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Leave a comment

Filed under Bible, Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

Safe with Jesus! — Matthew 8:23-27

Safe with Jesus! — Matthew 8:23-27
By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 4, 2019

Safety is foremost in the minds of many. Electronic and digital surveillance, digital safe guards, credit card, cell phone and computer virtual private networks, firewalls and virus controls are all selling well. But there is also a push for financial security, healthcare, and retirement safety. Keeping people safe at work, school, and in public places has become foremost in the minds of many. As alarmed as folks seem to be about their family’s safety and their own safety they disregard their spiritual security.

I have heard many sermons and talks that teach about Jesus calming the storms of life and they use this passage as a foundation to do so. There is nothing wrong with this but it is used so often that we may miss the spiritual meaning here that perhaps Matthew and others wanted us to discover. We find that three of the gospel writers included this incident because it had such an impact on the disciples’ lives. Let’s find out this morning why it is important to understand the truth that we are safe in Jesus…

READ: Matthew 8:23-27

We can think we are safe when in fact we are not and here we discover that…

I. In the midst of chaos we are safe with Jesus! (Vv. 23-25)

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

  1. Smoke and CO2 detectors are now required systems for selling or building homes, yet what kind of security system do you implement during the chaos of life? When a loved one dies, a job is lost, healthcare costs become insurmountable or your finances are out of control, what do you do? What plan of action have you made for such situations? The disciples had no such backup plans. They were simply trying to live from day to day, and sadly that is the same for many of us in our day and age as well because we have made no concerted effort for a backup plan either. As the crowds grew increasingly larger and they became a bit more unruly the disciples put Jesus in a boat and sent him across the Sea of Galilee for his safety, “Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.” While they wanted to protect Jesus they were also ready to follow him wherever he went. And while we may think sometimes that Jesus needs our protection, he really does not. This is an important reminder for us this morning: We are to follow Jesus wherever he goes no matter what occurs around us! In following him Jesus did not promise us perfect life; we see that “Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat.” This was not and is not unusual for this inland lake. The cool ocean breezes meet the warmer air from the inland and the lake often gets rough and now their boat is about to be swamped! Yet in the midst of the storm “Jesus was sleeping.” While we may think that sometimes God is unaware of our trials or the chaos of our lives he most definitely is. Like the Psalmist we need to remind ourselves, “My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip– he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. (Psalms 121:2-4 NIV)” And even though Jesus was asleep, he was still the Lord of all creation, but in our fear we can forget that God is always in control no matter what our circumstances or our fears are! However in their fear we find that “The disciples went and woke him, saying ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!’” But were they really going to drown? Of course not! God was not finished with his ministry yet and his disciples were not done with what he had planned for their lives either. Herein is the truth for our lives: In the midst of the chaos we may be going through and our boat of life feels swamped, God is still in control! In the midst of chaos we are safe with Jesus!


  EXAMPLE: One of the most frightening things that I’ve ever experienced in my life was when at boot camp I was placed in an underground concrete bunker with a team of other men and they filled it with aviation fuel and lit it on fire. We had to depend on our gear, one another, our training, not be afraid — even though we all were – and to keep going to get the job done in putting out the fire we were literally in the midst of! It was chaotic, frightening, and totally out of my control. How wonderful therefore to realize that in the midst of chaos we are safe with Jesus!

We beat ourselves up way too much when we falter in our faith and here we discover that…

II. When our faith is small we are safe with Jesus! (Vv. 26-27)

He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

  1. What we are going through in life does not dictate how God responds nor does our momentary fear, hesitation, or even our doubt stop God from working in our lives! Never forget God knows us, he chose us, and he created each of us! Again, as the Psalmist reminds us, “The LORD will keep you from all harm– he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. (Psalms 121:7-8 NIV)” Now dear child of God whatever you are going through does not matter with the Lord, what matters is what he desires to do with you! Paul in the midst of his doubting his faith was reminded by God: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore Paul wrote that he would “boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)” Wow! So when Jesus’ disciples display their human fear, Jesus replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Jesus does not call them names, doubters, rebuke or discipline them he just gently reminds them of their faith and to not be afraid. And dear child of God if you may be in uncertainty right now or in fear, Jesus is asking, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Don’t be because he is right there in the boat with you! He is not finished with you yet! Jesus then does what he knows he can do and “he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” What else would you expect from God? This is a wonderful reminder for us that in the midst of the chaos of life God is in control of our surroundings even when we think he is not! Even if our faith is not at its best, strongest, or where we think it should be. Jesus knows we are not him and that we are more than often frail in our faith. We spend far too much time beating up on ourselves, being ashamed, or frustrated rather than looking to God to clam the storms that surround us. And frankly I find it kind of humorous that “The men were amazed and asked, ‘What kind of man is this? Even the winds and waves obey him!” Well DUH! But again, isn’t this just like all of us? We are so surprised when God works in our lives in spite of our willy-nilly faith! “What kind of man is this?” Jesus isn’t just any “man” he is God in human flesh! This is just as true for us right now this morning as it was for Jesus’ fearful disciples way back then. And it is a beautiful reminder that when our faith is small we are safe with Jesus!

  EXAMPLE: We read throughout Scripture to “be strong in the Lord” but it is another thing when we are in the midst of a storm swamped boat! We forget that even the most heroic biblical figure, the greatest prophet of God, or the most tenacious apostle had moments of despair, fear, and weakness of faith. Yet in the midst of their fear they listened to his still quiet voice in the middle of the storm just as we should this morning. And listen to my words right now; that no matter how you feel about your faith, God sees you and knows what you are capable of and often it is far more than you realize. Just remember that when our faith is small we are safe with Jesus!

Conclusion:

In the midst of chaos we are safe with Jesus! When our faith is small we are safe with Jesus!

This article is copyrighted © 2019 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Comments Off on Safe with Jesus! — Matthew 8:23-27

Filed under Bible, Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

Follow me! — Matthew 8:18-22

Follow me! — Matthew 8:18-22
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 28, 2019

Who or what you follow says a lot about what you believe in life. I’ve always found it humorous when folks tell me that they go to a “nondenominational” church because there is no such thing. If you have a pastor who preaches and is your church’s leader you follow a specific “denomination” or theology whether you want to admit to it or not. Pastors are trained by someone and that someone was trained or trains in a particular denominational bent.

When Jesus called his disciples he did not give them any false pretenses and in fact often went out of the way to teach them exactly who they followed and why. While some of the gospel writers do not necessarily focus on those who were outside of the inner circle of disciples they do touch on the fact that there were many who did indeed follow Jesus even if they were not part of the core group he specifically chose. And it is here that Matthew focuses us this morning as we take a look at those who wanted to “follow” Jesus. Let’s take a look at what it meant when Jesus said, “Follow me!”

READ: Matthew 8:18-22

In this section Matthew gave a couple of illustrations to demonstrate the right Jesus had to ask who he desired to follow him and to deny requests from those who were motivated improperly. In this first example we discover…

I. Following Jesus requires hardship! (Vv. 18-20)

When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

  1. We find Jesus’ compassion often displayed by what he does or how he responds to certain situations. Evidently the crowds were becoming increasingly large and therefore probably more aggressive and perhaps even inconsiderate of Jesus’ time. Matthew writes that “When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake.” We had previously learned that “When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him.” (v. 8:1) and so it had become increasingly difficult to go from one place to the next so Jesus decides to cross the lake, the Sea of Galilee, and preach there. In one instance John relates that the people wanted to forcefully make Jesus their king, but he would have none of it and used the lake as a means to get away. However, as Jesus evidently lands on the far shore “a teacher of the law came to him” declaring “Teacher I will follow you wherever you go.” Instead of Jesus choosing him this man had decided for himself and we discover his impulsiveness isn’t what Jesus was looking for. Jesus replies, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” God has created a place for every living thing he has created but in his ministry and mission to the world he would not have a place of his own and this young man had to realize that the hardship he was asking for might be more then he could bear. Jesus had no permanent home. Perhaps Jesus saw that this young man desired more than just following him to be his disciple. Some think he wanted fame and fortune but Jesus desired neither and in fact had already flatly turned them down when Satan tried to tempt him in his humanity with such enticements. Creation is not Satan’s to give and God has no need of such things. In fact when “large crowds” were following Jesus, he turned to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:25-27 NIV)” The road of being a disciple of Jesus is not an easy well paved path like that broad way the world offers. Following Jesus requires hardship!

  EXAMPLE: Many families that started out on the Oregon Trail did not finish it intact; disease, accidents, starvation, wild animals, and attacks placed a huge hardship on early pioneers. We have no idea the dangers they faced and yet they did in order to find a new life in a new land. One of their favorite hymns they sang around campfires was On Jordan’s Stormy Banks I Stand and yet nowadays many refuse to come to the land that is fairer than day and a relationship with Jesus Christ. Hardship for us is misplacing our cell phone, not having free Wi-Fi or a fast food restaurant every 25 feet. Here in Matthew we discover that following Jesus requires hardship!

In our lives we can begin to place the improper focus on things that may not matter as far as eternity is concerned. Friends, jobs, school, finances, or even family can blur our vision as to what truly matters in life especially where it concerns following Jesus. In the second example we discover…

II. Following Jesus requires knowing what is vital in life! (Vv. 21-22)

Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

  1. At first glance we might think Jesus was uncaring in his next response to the second man but he was not. The wording in the original language teaches us what is happening here. We often get so caught up in this life we forget there is another one waiting for us. Our world has become so cynical that there are those who try to ignore life after death. Jesus made no illusions to the fact that once you pass from this existence you will either be in the presence of God or separated from him for eternity. Jesus absolutely knew what he was talking about because he is God! Matthew related that “Another disciple said to him, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’” Luke tells us it was just “another man” and not one of the inner twelve so here disciple is used for a close follower. And like I said before we tend to forget that there is more to life than just this life! When Peter complained that he and his fellow disciples had “left everything” to follow Jesus, he told Peter, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” However this promise of a wonderful future was not just reserved for the inner twelve disciples! Jesus continued by relating, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” Now Jesus is not teaching some name-it-and-claim-it heresy but rather that there is more to living for him than we know. If we follow him we will be wonderfully rewarded. In fact Paul would write, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him! (1 Corinthians 2:9 NIV)” Matthew related therefore, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Jesus wasn’t uncaring but the man wanted to go back home and wait until his father got older, he buried him, and then he would follow Jesus! Jesus desires you make the decision to follow him today, not later. Paul would state that “now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation! (2 Corinthians 6:2 NIV)” Make no mistake that following Jesus requires knowing what is vital in life!

  EXAMPLE: What we consider vital in life is far different than what was considered essential when I was a child. Children can live without cell phones, video games, or the latest clothing fad. In Walt Disney’s classic The Jungle Book based on Kipling’s book of the same title the bear Baloo sings a song called The Bare Necessities in which he encourages his young protégée to go after the simple bare necessities of life. Baloo finds everything he needs from the forest around him. We live in a time when even the poorest among us has more than most of the rest of the world. Following Jesus requires knowing what is vital in life!

Conclusion:

Following Jesus requires hardship! Following Jesus requires knowing what is vital in life!

This article is copyrighted © 2019 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Comments Off on Follow me! — Matthew 8:18-22

Filed under Bible, Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

In the Wild! – John 20:30-31

In the Wild! – John 20:30-31
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 21, 2019

Life is filled with incredible encounters. As we go through childhood, we are constantly discovering everything about the world around us. When we make friends, discover the beauty of nature, and become more aware of everything around us, we begin to realize the world’s vastness. We also begin to grasp that an entire globe of opportunities awaits each of us!

God made us to encounter his love and to enjoy a personal relationship with him that lasts not just for a lifetime, but for eternity. All through his Word, God introduces himself in incredible ways, showing himself to be perfectly faithful, true, compassionate, and merciful. Even though people aren’t perfect, God has a plan to forgive us of our sin and bless us with a relationship with him. As Jesus’ earthly ministry began, he made it clear that his purpose was to make a way for every person to have an opportunity to receive his forgiveness and to enjoy eternal life with God. Jesus wants each of us to encounter his love and to be born again. When we truly meet him, we are never the same! Let’s discover what God has for us in the wild…

READ: John 20:30-31

The world is a wild and wonderful place that is filled both good and bad things. Our journey through life places us squarely within this wonderful but wild world. Wild animals are not the only thing the world is filled with but also with ungodliness as well. We discover that…

I. God came as Jesus into the wild to rescue us! (v. 30)

Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.

  1. The gospel writers wrote under the guidance of the Holy Spirit about some of the things Jesus did from healing lepers, the blind, the lame, and even bringing back the dead but the most important thing they shared was how “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 NIV)” Therefore, Jesus, God in human flesh, willingly entered into a world full of sin, violence, and hatred to bring and show us the love of God. In fact the wording here literally comes from the notion that God deliberately entered our realm and pitched his tent with us! I love to go camping in public campgrounds and sometimes my camp neighbors are fun to get to know, friendly, and enjoyable but there have been times when those next to me should have stayed home and I wished they had pitched their tent somewhere else! But I am so glad Jesus willingly came and pitched his tent with us! Paul expresses Jesus’ coming into the wild of the world to rescue us when he wrote that Jesus Christ “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (Philippians 2:6-7 NIV)” Jesus deliberately set aside his deity and came and pitched his tent among us because God’s desire was to change people forever! And he wanted people to experience this wonderful life change for their own selves. It is like when Jesus went to the Samaritans “And because of his words (and the testimony of a Samaritan woman) many more became believers. They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.’ (John 4:41-42 NIV)” and as Jesus testified, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost. (Luke 19:10 NIV)” This is what Vacation Bible School is all about; to share the love of God with children about the coming of Jesus into the wilderness of this world to rescue us from our sins! God came as Jesus into the wild to rescue us!

  EXAMPLE: Years ago when my brother-in-law and I were finishing a weekend camping and hiking trip when we encountered three younger teens who were not prepared for hiking in the wilderness. And sadly later on we met two of them who were out of breath because of trying to run for help for their friend who had fallen off a 30 foot water fall. They had been pushing logs over the edge and he had been caught in one and taken over the falls. I ran down the trail while Dale went back to meet the rescue team. I hiked with the team up the creek bed to try and rescue the young boy but it was too late. I am so glad that God came as Jesus at just the right time into the wild to rescue us!

As we journey through the wild here in this world we can chose to have an encounter with Jesus or not. Amazingly we discover that…

II. Jesus desires we have a wild encounter with him! (v. 31)

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

  1. John was so impacted and astonished at who Jesus was and what he did he never lost the utter amazement of what had occurred. In fact he would finish his gospel by writing: “This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. (John 21:24-25 NIV)” We must never forget that Jesus did not come so we could have a good worship experience on Sundays, an answer for all our emotional, personal, or physical problems; Jesus made it plain: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10 NIV)” There are those who falsely think this fullness includes all of the things I listed before but in reality Jesus was not referring to this at all! He was teaching about that he came to give his listeners eternal life with God! Jesus’ detractors have always wanted to relegate him to something less than what he is or to rewrite why he came. But Jesus was never deterred. He would bluntly tell them, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one. (John 10:27-30 NIV)” Jesus is God. And his entire purpose was that we would have a wild encounter with him! In a world that has become a wilderness full of those who would purposefully confuse who Jesus is and why he came we have the real truth! The wilderness of the world is full of confusion as to what constitutes sin, God, and has redefined morality. The ungodly world loves to hide in the wilderness and darkness of their sin. Isaiah the prophet declared thousands of years ago the truth that there would be those who would want to confuse you and that they would ultimately be condemned: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. (Isaiah 5:20 NIV)” However Jesus related, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12 NIV)” Jesus desires we have a wild encounter with him!

  EXAMPLE: This is why I love Vacation Bible School because it simply and plainly teaches the truth of Jesus and why he came into the wilderness of creation to rescue us. And children see the truth, they know the truth, and they are not confused by the truth. In the week to come children will learn about being in the wild and they will learn about the truth of Jesus! I am so glad that Jesus desires we have a wild encounter with him!

Conclusion:

God came as Jesus into the wild to rescue us! Jesus desires we have a wild encounter with him!

This article is copyrighted © 2019 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Comments Off on In the Wild! – John 20:30-31

Filed under Bible, Sermon Notes, Uncategorized

When Jesus heals… — Matthew 8:14-17

When Jesus heals… — Matthew 8:14-17
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 14, 2019

Sometimes it is the little things that make a big impact on people’s lives. A kind word spoken at just the right time, a helping hand when it is least expected, and an act of compassion when hope seems lost. I grew up in poverty because of my father’s health problems caused by smoking. His heart was slowly failing. Back then there were no governmental programs, a plethora of community aid organizations, or anyone whom you could contact in order to get help. It was during some pretty desperate times I remember sacks of groceries all of sudden appearing on our back porch, school clothes, coats or shoes showing up. It was these little blessings that had a huge impact.

Here in Matthew’s gospel he records the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law and it seems as if it is almost a side note. Mark and Luke go into greater detail of what occurred and the circumstances involved. It is one thing to see Jesus healing lepers, a centurion’s servant, but when it comes to your own family member that carries a greater impact. Let’s discover what it means when Jesus heals…


READ: Matthew 8:14-17

In Luke’s gospel Jesus has just been rejected in his own hometown of Nazareth and in Mark’s gospel he had just cured a demon-possessed man after calling his first disciples. A correct timeline was not important in Hebraic thought, only the telling of the incident. We discover that …

I. When Jesus heals we see his compassion! (Vv. 14-15)

When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.
 
  1. Matthew’s account is kind of straight forward, generic and kind if sterile at first glance while in Luke’s gospel after they attended the local synagogue the disciples and Jesus go to the home of Peter. And Luke relates that “Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her.” Luke therefore indicates that she was “suffering” the cause being a “high fever” and Jesus is asked to “help her” while simply in Matthew’s account “When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever.” Now before we want to throw stones at Matthew for being less descriptive let’s take a closer look at what occurs. First we see Jesus doing the normal things of life by going to a friend’s house for the afternoon and his friend, Peter, has done the right thing in taking care of his mother-in-law. Evidently she didn’t have any male children who could have taken her in, but Peter willingly does. The idea conveyed is that she is widowed. And in her gratitude she helped take care of Peter’s house, cooking, and serving guests but now she could not perform her own duties because she was ill. It also shows Peter’s mother-in-law’s willing spirit. Secondly, we discover the compassion of Jesus who acts immediately without fanfare and I believe completely out of concern. Jesus did not know what had caused her aliment only that she was sick. Now, one needs to understand a few things: Healthy male Jews did not go around touching women, any women, and especially sick women with unknown diseases even if it is a friend’s mother-in-law! But notice Jesus reaches down and “touched her hand”. That’s all it took. Like I stated earlier Luke’s account states that they, probably meaning Peter’s wife and Peter, had asked him to “help her”. And Jesus willingly and compassionately does. Immediately “the fever left her and she got up and began to wait on him”! What a wonderful moment caught by those who witnessed it! It reminds me of when Moses asks to see God when the Israelites are in the wilderness and God responds, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. (Exodus 33:19 NIV)” When Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law we see his compassion!


  EXAMPLE: Compassion is more than just having empathy for someone. If Jesus only empathized we would’ve never heard of him. There are a lot of folks who have feelings for others but never do anything, they just have feelings. And compassion is more than the misguided massaging of one’s personal guilt. Giving a drug addicted panhandler money, putting your spare change in a Save the Puppies can at Minute Mart, or throwing a twenty in the collection plate twice a year is not kindness either. Real compassion responds with personal sacrifice. It takes one’s time, talent, and treasure to measure true compassion and here in Matthew’s gospel when Jesus heals we see his compassion!

Hope is often found in the least likely places and from the least likely people. Word was out about Jesus; not that he was the Messiah necessarily but that he could heal folks and in Jesus’ day where people died, were disfigured, or had chronic conditions this was a ray of hope! We discover that…

II. When Jesus heals we see his power! (Vv. 16-17)

When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.”

  1. People often make the mistake in thinking that the information age brought about instantaneous communication; it is certain they never lived in a small town or village! One person joked that you could cough or sneeze in a small town and within minutes there would be five families at your door with chicken soup! There was no way you could keep something as wonderful as Peter’s mother-in-law being healed a secret in a town like Capernaum. And so “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.” Where there was once no hope the people now sensed hope and find it in the rabbi Jesus of Nazareth. Notice it was not some, those with money or the means, but “all the sick”. In our day and age there are those who scoff at saying anyone is demon-possessed but I tell you after seeing some of the actions of black-clad Nazi ANTIFA street thugs, drug addicted pot-smoking millennials, and the insanity being taught in classrooms today I wonder if we are not in the midst of the spiritual warfare Paul wrote about. He warned that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12 NIV)” Now I am not one who sees Satan sneaking around every corner, even though he “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV)! And he has devoured a lot of folks in our day and age whereby they have swallowed his lies. But I do know that it is Jesus who is the cure for what ails our society today! Sure there are those who will ignorantly spout that people back then often thought a lot of mental illness or disease was from “evil spirits” but I believe they knew the difference and Jesus certainly knew. It was for a greater purpose “to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.’” The people understood that because Jesus could do what he did the Messiah had come! Today’s world needs Jesus as never before and when Jesus heals we see his power!

  EXAMPLE: As we walked along the beach with the missionaries the other day I picked up a cluster of purple seashells, placed them on my bicep, and declared: “Look at my mussels!” Of course I was using a play on words in a lame attempt to be humorous. Yet there are those who declare their prowess or think they have power when in fact they are mere shadows of real power. Some even use the name of Jesus as a means to garner a following from their false claims. However here in Matthew’s gospel when Jesus heals we see his power!

Conclusion:

When Jesus heals we see his compassion! When Jesus heals we see his power!

This article is copyrighted © 2019 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Comments Off on When Jesus heals… — Matthew 8:14-17

Filed under Bible, Sermon Notes

A soldier’s faith! — Matthew 8:5-13

A soldier’s faith! — Matthew 8:5-13
By Pastor Lee Hemen
July 7, 2019

What kind of discipline do you display in life? I have a sister who never saw a shoe store she couldn’t pass by or for that matter a jewelry display she would not stop for. For me it used to be bookstores. However self-discipline is a good thing and is why the military focuses on it so much. They want soldiers who will follow orders and are disciplined enough to be able to handle anything that is thrown their way during a conflict. In fact they are trained to act as a team and to depend on one another.

Jesus desired that his followers learn how to not only have faith in him but also to have faith in one another because he knew their future was going to be tough. And here in this depiction of an incident that Jesus has with a Roman centurion teaches about what it means to have faith in him and to have the willingness to follow Jesus wherever he leads. Let’s take a look at a soldier’s faith…

READ: Matthew 8:5-13

The way Jesus handles the Roman centurion’s faith teaches us that…

I. We have to be willing to see beyond a person’s exterior! (Vv. 5-7)

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.” Jesus said to him, “I will go and heal him.”

  1. It is interesting but first it is a leper who comes to Jesus for healing and now it is a Roman centurion! The Jewish people hated the Romans and there were constant uprisings against them and constant repercussions by the ruling Roman authority. And it occurred “When Jesus had entered Capernaum” a major Jewish town where Jesus lived and went out from to do his ministry that “a centurion came to him, asking for help.” We know that Pontius Pilate used extreme measures to quell any threat to Roman authority. In describing Pilate’s personality, Philo (a first century Greek historian) writes that Pilate had “vindictiveness and furious temper”, and was “naturally inflexible, a blend of self-will and relentlessness”. Referring to Pilate’s governance, Philo further describes “his corruption, and his acts of insolence, and his rapine (taking other’s property by force), and his habit of insulting people, and his cruelty, and his continual murders of people untried and uncondemned, and his never ending, and gratuitous, and most grievous inhumanity”. So we understand that the Hebrew people did not like the Romans who occupied their nation. And here this Roman commander comes to Jesus! “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering.” Now wait a minute, you mean to tell me that a Roman soldier who is in command of 100 men is coming to an itinerant Jewish rabbi for help? And we learn it is for a servant no less? In his actions and words we learn a few things about this Roman: 1) He was compassionate (his servant was in “terrible suffering”), 2) He fully understood who he needed to go to for help (Jesus), and 3) he was humble enough that went himself into a major Jewish town and did not send an underling! I believe Jesus saw all of this in this man as well and responds to him by immediately telling him, “I will go and heal him.” Like Jesus, we have to be willing to see beyond a person’s exterior!

  EXAMPLE: The tough question here is: Can I see beyond the outward appearance of the person? George Washington seems cold and aloof. Yet he served without pay as General of a ragtag Army against the might of the British military. Fiery in temper, he rarely displayed it; he held everyone in high regard with honor and wept over his soldiers. Kids today are likely to spend school time listing “10 things I like about myself” while young Washington, in contrast, diligently copied 110 “Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior” into his lesson book! Washington was known to pray often. Here Jesus teaches us that we have to be willing to see beyond a person’s exterior!
What we may see on the outside is not the actual person inside and here Jesus teaches us that…

II. We have to be willing to understand a person’s interior! (Vv. 8-9)

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

  1. Gauging what’s in a person’s heart is often hard to do but God never asks us to do that. Rather, we can listen and be attentive and deduce by why a person does what they do or says what they say and come to a pretty good conclusion. And further we can ask the Holy Spirit for guidance! Jesus promised “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (John 16:13 NIV)” Far too often we rely on our “intuition” when we need to learn from God’s interaction! And in his humanity Jesus does just that! Jesus listens to the Centurion’s words and looks closely at his actions. Notice what Jesus hears: “The centurion replied, ‘Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.’” This army commander calls Jesus “Lord” meaning here “master”. He recognizes what some people never do: That Jesus is in complete control and in perfect power to do what he desires! Jesus is either the master of our lives or he is not. If he isn’t then he cannot and will not work in our lives until we are willing to become his servant. The Centurion understood all Jesus had to do was “say the word” and his “servant” would “be healed”! A Roman army officer was willing to become a servant in order for his slave to be healed! And notice he tells Jesus exactly why he believes this to be true: “For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” You see, there it is, Jesus sees that this man understood the command structure and because he does he understood how God works in the lives of those who willingly place themselves under his command! This rugged Roman Centurion was fully exposed to Jesus from his inside out! Jesus understood what made him tick because he listened and was attentive to the Centurion’s need. Like Jesus, we have to be willing to understand a person’s interior!

  EXAMPLE: The tough question here is: Who controls my life? We all have comfort zones we do not like to leave. Benjamin Franklin drew up a list of 13 virtues he wished to acquire, and a program for practicing them. “I was surprised,” Franklin wrote later, “to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined; but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish.” It is safe to stay inside our self-built walls. Yet if we are going to reach this generation with the good news of Jesus we must be willing to take a hard look at ourselves. Like Jesus, we have to be willing to understand a person’s interior!

Who controls our lives says a lot about who we follow and taking a hard look at one’s self can be tough. But here we learn from Jesus that…

III. We may need to give ourselves a kick in the posterior! (Vv. 10-13)

When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, “I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour.

  1. Can you imagine what Jesus’ disciple thought? What about the crowd who now followed his every move, I wonder how they responded to Jesus’ willingness to hear and act on the behalf of a Roman? Yet we also discover that Jesus in his humanity could be surprised and “When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, ‘I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.’” Say what? Jesus is delightfully surprised by the man’s explanation. How cool is that! So much so he admits he had not seen the same kind of faith out of his own people! And Jesus bluntly tells the crowd and his followers, “I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” The promised feast that all Jews longed for and looked forward to! “But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Say it isn’t so! Basically Jesus is kicking them in the pants with is words! He is telling them that this hated Roman Soldier has more faith than any of them and that “many” of them “will come from the east and the west” to take their “places at the [future] feast with [their Father] Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” [Patriarchs all] but they the “subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside”! They will be punished for their unbelief! For their unwillingness to become Jesus’ servants! Remember Jesus had just gotten through telling the crowd “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21 NIV)” In fact he would never know them but he would know this Roman centurion! Jesus teaches us that we may need to give ourselves a kick in the posterior!

  EXAMPLE: The tough question here is: Do I need a swift kick in my bottom to get me to do what I know I need to do? Habeas corpus is recourse in law whereby a person can report an unlawful detention or imprisonment before a court. President Lincoln suspended it during the Civil War. John Merryman, a state legislator from Maryland, incurred Lincoln’s wrath and was arrested for attempting to hinder Union troops from moving from Baltimore to Washington during the Civil War and was held by Union troops. He immediately sought a writ of habeas corpus. However, President Lincoln decided not allow it because he felt state legislators were trying to hinder his ability to effectively fight the war. Lincoln decided to give them a “swift kick” to gain their attention. It worked even though five years later the Supreme Court ruled that only Congress could suspend habeas corpus. Here in Matthew’s account we learn that we may need to give ourselves a kick in the posterior!

Conclusion:

We have to be willing to see beyond a person’s exterior! We have to be willing to understand a person’s interior! We may need to give ourselves a kick in the posterior!

This article is copyrighted © 2019 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Comments Off on A soldier’s faith! — Matthew 8:5-13

Filed under Bible, Sermon Notes, Uncategorized