What would you say is your greatest difficulty today? What is your greatest fear?
Maybe you are experiencing difficulty in your marriage. Or maybe you are struggling with a disobedient or rebellious teenager. Maybe you fear losing your job, your home, or maybe you are having difficulties at work. Perhaps you’re facing financial difficulties, or your health or the health of a loved one is faltering or even failing.
I don’t know what difficulty you are facing today or what your greatest fear is, but God does.
In this lesson we will learn that through the person of Jesus Christ we have all we need to face these difficulties and fears. It’s called faith.
What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 tells us that, “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Faith is that active ingredient to believe. Our belief as Christians is based on believing in God and His character as revealed to us through the Holy Scriptures.
So the object of our faith is Christ and Christ alone. This means we believe what the Word of God reveals about who He is, His character, His attributes, and His desires.
We believe in His promises also found in His Word, And, as Christians we strive to live by His standards and not the world’s. This takes faith! Faith in God, faith in His Word, that what He says is true even when we don’t see those promises coming about when or how we want them to.
Faith is trusting that those promises will happen in God’s perfect timing and in God’s perfect way! Not in ours!
True faith is expressed through believing without seeing and in these next lessons we will see faith expressed in many different ways, in different situations, by several different people.
May we have faith to believe that Jesus Christ has all power and authority over every aspect of our lives.
Before we dig into Matthew 8, let’s do a brief review.
Remember that Matthew spent the better part of chapters 1-4 proving to his Jewish audience and to us that Jesus was really who He said He was. He was the promised Messiah of Genesis 3:15, the long awaited King of the Jews. He was the Savior who had come to seek and save the lost, the Lamb of God!
And in chapters 5-7 Jesus proved with great teaching that He was not like the others. In fact, the last verses in chapter 7 (28-29) told us that when Jesus had finished saying these things (the Sermon on the Mount), the crowds were amazed at His teaching, “because He taught as one who had authority and not as their teachers of the law.”
Jesus’s words often contradicted what the religious leaders had been teaching and preaching in the synagogues to the people. And the people’s hearts and minds were being touched and changed by Jesus’s words. This was not because they were a feel-good type, but rather because they were truth and the truth is the only way to set a prisoner, a prisoner of sin, free.
In the next few chapters we will see how Jesus moved about with His disciples, teaching and training them. He taught not only with His words but also with demonstrations of His power and authority. He proved that He could substantiate His words by His works.
As Jesus and His disciples came down from the mountainside, Jesus was bombarded by large crowds of people. People everywhere were coming to hear what this man Jesus, this teacher and preacher of the Jews, had to say. And as they were all gathered around Him there came from the crowd loud shouts of someone yelling, “Unclean, unclean, unclean!”
The crowd moved back and the way was opened, and Jesus was found standing right where He was. Jesus was not moved by fear or overcome with worry as this man, a man covered by leprosy, appeared before Him.
Leprosy was a deadly disease, for not many lepers were cured and most died. It was a horrific disease that was often debilitating and disfiguring. Many became unrecognizable and they often lost limbs. The stench from the rotting and decaying body itself could be enough to send people running for cover as it was a highly contagious disease.
Lepers were not only put out of their local synagogues and labeled as unclean, they were also put outside of the city or town walls, removed from family and friends and basically quarantined.
People with leprosy were considered social outcasts and if anyone came near them they were to yell out, “Unclean, unclean!” in keeping with the law in Leviticus 13 and 14. Jewish leaders declared people with leprosy unclean.
Mark 1:40-45 tells us that this man came begging Jesus on his knees, asking Jesus to make him clean. It was illegal for anyone in Israel to greet or speak to a leper, yet at this point the man somehow knew that Jesus was his only hope for a cure. This man risked it all for an opportunity to seek Jesus and ask for His cleansing power!
And Jesus broke all barriers not only by responding to the leper but also by reaching out and touching this contagious outcast.
We are not told where Jesus touched him. I like how someone said she could see Jesus reaching out and touching this man’s face and responding to his faith of being made clean by saying, “I am willing!”, “Be Clean!”
Matthew 8:3 says that immediately the man was cured of his leprosy! Jesus then instructed him not to go and tell anyone, but go to the priest and show himself and offer the gift Moses commanded. This was a testimony of Jesus’s cleansing power and authority over sin and disease.
It’s important for us to see that instead of Jesus contracting the illness of the man, Jesus cured the man of his illness. The man did not transfer his illness to Jesus, but rather Jesus transferred His wellness to the man.
Sin separates us from God and from a right relationship with others. But when we come to Jesus seeking and asking for His cleansing power, we too are lifted out of our death sentence.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
We are cleansed from all our unrighteousness through the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus Christ. The One who knew no sin took on our sin, our infirmities, at Calvary that we might live and not die!
Do you not only know of Jesus but have you also experienced His life-changing power? Through the confession of sin have you come to Him just as you are and sought His authority to cast out all your unrighteousness? Have you let Him replace it with His abundant grace and abounding mercy and never-ending love?
If not, won’t you come just as you are, like the leper, declaring yourself unclean in Jesus’s presence and ask Him to make you whole? Wholly His!
Isaiah 1:18 says:
“’Come now, let us settle the matter,’ says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’”