The Challenge After the Strength: Faith Which Cannot be Challenged Cannot be Confirmed

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ written by the apostle Matthew. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters eight through nine of this New Testament book. “And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at His doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:28-29). “When He was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth His hand, and touched Him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them” (Matthew 8:1-4). JESUS’ AUTHORITY OVER LEPROSY! JESUS’ AUTHORITY OVER WHAT THE LAW CALLED UNCLEAN! JESUS’ AUTHORITY OVER WHAT OTHERS WOULD SHY AWAY FROM AND AVOID!

And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto Him a centurion, beseeching Him, and saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, He marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee” (Matthew 8:5-13).

I WILL; BE THOU CLEAN! I WILL COME AND HEAL HIM! JESUS WAS WILLING TO HEAL THE MAN WITH LEPROSY RIGHT WHERE HE WAS! JESUS WAS WILLING TO GO TO WHERE THE CENTURION’S SERVANT WAS AND HEAL HIM! JESUS HEALING US WHERE WE ARE, JESUS BRINGING HEALING TO WHERE WE ARE! HOW INCREDIBLE IT IS TO CONSIDER HOW JESUS WAS WILLING TO HEAL BOTH—THAT WHICH WAS UNCLEAN ACCORDING TO THE LAW, AND THAT WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN SHUNNED BY POPULAR AND PUBLIC OPINION! JESUS DIDN’T CARE WHAT SICKNESS YOU HAD! JESUS DIDN’T CARE WHAT ILLNESS YOU HAD! JESUS DIDN’T CARE WHAT YOU HAD BEEN STRUGGLING WITH! JESUS WAS WILLING! JESUS IS WILLING! DO YOU BELIEVE JESUS IS WILLING TO HEAL? DO YOU BELIEVE JESUS IS WILLING TO MEET YOU RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE?

And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever. And He touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them. When the even was come, they brought unto Him many that were possessed with devils: and He cast out the spirits with His word, and healed all that were sick: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses” (Matthew 8:14-17). FROM THE MULTITUDES TO ONE! JESUS WAS JUST AS COMFORTABLE AMONG THE CROWDS AS HE WAS WITH THE ONE! JESUS WAS WILLING TO BE INVESTED RIGHT WHERE HE WAS! JESUS WAS FULLY DEVOTED AND INVESTED RIGHT WHERE HE WAS! JESUS WAS NEVER IN A HURRY TO MOVE BEYOND WHERE HE WAS IN THAT MOMENT!

Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave commandment to depart unto the other side. And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And another of His disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead” (Matthew 8:18-22).

And when He was entered into a ship, His disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And His disciples came to Him, and awoke Him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And He saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Matthew 8:23-27). SLEEPING IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM! SLEEPING IN THE STORM, SPEAKING TO THE STORM! WHICH REQUIRES GREATER FAITH—SLEEPING IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM, OR STANDING AND SPEAKING IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM! PAUSE FOR A MOMENT AND THINK ABOUT THE FACT THAT THE STORM WAS STILL RAGING ALL AROUND THE SHIP WITH THE DISCIPLES AND JESUS IN THE MIDST OF IT, AND BEFORE JESUS SPEAKS TO THE STORM HE SPEAKS TO THE DISCIPLES! BEFORE JESUS SPEAKS TO THE STORM HE CALMS HIS DISCIPLES! BEFORE JESUS STANDS IN THE STORM HE SLEEPS IN THE STORM! BEFORE JESUS SPEAKS TO THE WIND AND THE WAVES HE FIRST SPEAKS TO HIS DISCIPLES!

And when He was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? Art thou come hither to torment us before the time? And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And He said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devil. And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought Him that He would depart out of their coasts” (Matthew 8:28-34). JESUS ENCOUNTERED MULTITUDES OF PEOPLE DURING HIS LIFE AND MINISTRY, BUT JESUS ALSO ENCOUNTERED A LEGION OF DEMONS! IT DIDN’T MATTER WHETHER IT WAS A SINGLE UNCLEAN SPIRIT OR A LEGION OF DEMONS—JESUS STILL EXERCISED DOMIONION AND AUTHORITY OVER THEM! THE LEGION OF DEMONS KNEW WHO JESUS WAS (EVEN THE DEMONS BELIEVE AND TREMBLE). THE LEGION OF DEMONS NOT ONLY KNEW WHO JESUS WAS, BUT THEY ALSO KNEW OF THE APPOINTED TIME OF THEIR DESTRUCTION!

And He entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into His own city. And, behold, they brought to Him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith He to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house. But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men” (Matthew 9:1-8). AUTHORITY OVER SICKNESS, AUTHORITY OVER SIN! THE ABILITY TO HEAL SICKNESS, THE ABILITY TO FORGIVE SIN! (THEN WILL I HEAR FROM HEAVEN AND FORGIVE THEIR SIN AND HEAL THEIR LAND)! FORGIVENESS PRECEDES HEALING! IS IT POSSIBLE JESUS KNEW SOMETHING THOSE PRESENT DID NOT KNOW—NAMELY, THAT WHILE THIS MAN MIGHT HAVE REQUIRED HEALING IN HIS PHYSICAL BODY, HIS TRUEST AND GREATEST NEED WAS FORGIVENESS OF HIS SINS!

And as Jesus passed forth from thence, He saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and He saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed Him. And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto His disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, He said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matthew 9:9-13). MANY PUBLICANS AND SINNERS CAME AND SAT DOWN WITH HIM AND HIS DISCIPLES! WHEN THE PHARISEES SAW IT! WHY EATETH YOUR MASTER WITH PUBLICANS AND SINNERS! JESUS NOT ONLY CALLED A PUBLICAN AND SINNER TO FOLLOW HIM AS HIS DISCIPLE, BUT JESUS ALSO ALLOWED PUBLICANS AND SINNERS TO SIT WITH HIM!

Then came to Him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. NO man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved” (Matthew 9:14-17).

While He spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped Him,s aying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did His disciples. And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind Him, and touched the hem of His garment: for she said within herself, If I may but touch His garment, I shall be whole. But Jesus turned Him about, and when He saw her, He said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour. And when Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise, He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed Him to scorn. But when the people were put forth, He went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose. And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land” (Matthew 9:18-26).

And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us. And when He was come into the house, the blind men came to Him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto Him, Yea, Lord. Then touched He their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it. But they, when they were departed, spread abroad His fame in all that country” (Matthew 9:27-31).

As they went out, behold, they brought to Him a dumb man possessed with a devil. And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel. But the Pharisees said, He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils. And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and ever disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith He unto His disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the LORD of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:32-38).

IT BEGAN WITH MULTITUDES! IT CONTINUES WITH MULTITUDES! If you continue reading in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew you will find and discover that after Jesus had finished teaching, and after He had come down from the mountain there were still great multitudes which followed Him. RISING UP IN THE MIDST OF THE CROWD! RISING UP IN THE MIDST OF THE MULTITUDE! Upon beginning to read with and from the opening verses of the eighth chapter you will find something that might not necessarily be a theme in the four gospels, but something that takes place quite often. Beginning to read with and from the first verse of the eighth chapter you will find that when Jesus came down from the multitudes there were great multitudes which continued to follow Him. It’s something truly intriguing and astonishing to think about and consider this—particularly and especially when you consider the words and language which Jesus had just spoken to them from the mountain. In the final verses of the fourth chapter we read how Jesus healed all manner of sickness and how He healed all manner of disease. What’s more is that we also find how a fame concerning Jesus went throughout all Syria, and how they brought Him all the sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those which had the palsy. Moreover, what we also find is the apostle Matthew emphatically declaring that Jesus healed those who were brought unto Him, and that as a direct result of His healing them great multitudes followed him from Galilee, from Decapolis, from Jerusalem, from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan. The fourth chapter concludes and ends with Jesus healing all manner of disease and all manner of sickness, with a fame about Jesus going throughout the region, and great multitudes and crowds beginning to follow. THE CROWDS BEGIN! THE MULTITUDES START COMING! In the fifth, sixth and seventh chapters we find Jesus teaching the multitude which had gathered themselves unto and followed Him—much like Moses taught the children of Israel from the mountain, and much like the LORD their God had done when He descended upon the mountain and gave unto them the Law which would be the foundation of their culture and society throughout the generations.

What makes the words we find in the eighth chapter so incredibly powerful is when you consider how the multitudes still, and how the multitudes continued to follow Jesus—even after He had taught them from the mountain and demanded and required of them a righteousness which exceeded that of the scribes and Pharisees. In the final verses of the fourth chapter you will find great multitudes following Jesus—undoubtedly because He healed all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among them—and in the opening verse of the eighth chapter we continue to find great multitudes following Jesus. I am quite astonished and quite amazed when I read the words which are found in the opening verses of the eighth chapter, for the words contained therein suggest that after Jesus healed sickness and disease, and after Jesus taught the multitude which came unto and followed Him, the crowds and multitudes continued to follow Him. In all reality, the reason why great multitudes continued to follow Him—even after He had finished teaching them—is found in the final verses of the seventh chapter. If you read verses twenty-eight and twenty-nine of the seventh chapter you will find that when Jesus ended all those sayings which He had taught from the mountain the people were astonished at His doctrine. The reason they were astonished at His doctrine was because He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. The fourth chapter of this gospel narrative concludes with great multitudes following Jesus because of His authority over sickness and disease, while the eighth chapter begins with great multitudes following Jesus because of His authority when He taught. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and incredible reality, for there was an authority which Jesus exercised as He healed all manner of sickness and disease, and as He cast out unclean spirits and devils, and even as He raised the dead. With this in mind, there was also an authority surrounding Jesus when He taught those who gathered themselves unto Him, for He taught them with one having authority, which was something completely different from their scribes—perhaps even the priests, the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the teachers of the Law themselves.

As the eighth chapter begins and opens we find Jesus coming down from the mountain and great multitudes continuing to follow Him. In the midst of the crowd, however, there would be on who would emerge, and one who would set himself apart and distinguish himself from the rest of the crowd. What makes the narrative of this individual so incredibly powerful is when you think about and consider that this is the first narrative in the gospel written by the apostle Matthew of Jesus healing the one and not the multitudes. In the fourth chapter we read how Jesus healed all manner of sickness, all manner of disease, and those who were brought unto Him. Now what we find is one single individual who dared make their way through the crowd that they might come unto Jesus and receiving healing themselves. The apostle Matthew writes how in the midst of the great multitudes and the great crowds there would come a leper who worshipped Him, and who said boldly and emphatically before Jesus, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” I find the words which are found in this particular chapter to be truly spectacular, for while individuals distinguishing and setting themselves apart from the crowd was not necessarily a theme in the midst of the gospels, there were countless and numerous times when individuals would make their way through the crowds that they might come unto Jesus the Christ and receive healing from their sickness, and even find deliverance for their loved one who was taken with and taken by an unclean spirit and devil. The account of this leper in the beginning of the eighth chapter is something that is truly unique when you consider it in light of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew, for this would be the first individual within the gospel who would dare brave the crowds, who would dare brave the multitudes, and who would dare brave the great numbers of people who thronged and flocked unto Jesus. What makes this even more astonishing and remarkable is when you consider the fact that this man was no ordinary man, but was a leper—one who was unclean in their physical flesh, and unclean according to the Law of Moses. This is something worth noting, for I can’t help but wonder if this man dared work and push his way through the crowd that they might receive cleansing in their physical bodies. In the fourth chapter of this gospel narrative we read of Jesus bringing healing of all manner of sickness and all manner of disease in the midst of the lives of those who were brought unto Him, and now we encounter something slightly different, for now we read of Jesus bringing cleansing—and not merely cleansing, but cleansing of leprosy.

I sit here this morning thinking about and considering the words which are found in the opening verses of the eighth chapter, and I can’t help but consider the tremendous amount  of courage, the tremendous amount of bravery, and the tremendous amount of strength this leper needed to have within himself to dare brave the crowds and multitudes. If anything, I am sure this leper most likely spent most of their life avoiding crowds and avoiding multitudes because of the leprosy that was upon their flesh. We know that according to the Law of Moses those who had leprosy, and those who were lepers were considered unclean—and not only were they considered unclean, but they had to announce their uncleanness wherever they went among the people of God. What’s more, is that if you read the Law of Moses you will find that anyone who touched or came in contact with one who was a leper and/or one who had leprosy upon their flesh would themselves be unclean and would need to be cleansed. There is not a doubt in my mind that this man would have spent a considerable amount of time avoiding crowds and avoiding multitudes for fear of the leprosy which was upon his physical flesh and body. When this one would have most likely avoided crowds and multitudes in the past—they were now willing to join the crowds and multitudes in the midst of the land because of the presence of Jesus. Undoubtedly this one had heard of the fame, and had heard the reports concerning Jesus, and they dared brave the crowds and multitude in order that they might be cleansed of their leprosy. Pause for a moment and think about what such a move would have meant for this one who was a leper, for they undoubtedly would have spent a considerable amount of time isolated and cut off from others. Scripture provides no background for this individual—other than the fact that they were a leper—and yet we must conclude and deduce that this one would have spent a considerable amount of time avoiding others, or being avoided by others. All of this, however, was about to change for this one, for this leper dared brave the crowds which gathered around and followed Jesus that they might be cleansed of their leprosy. Oh I truly can’t help but wonder how many individuals this man might have come in contact with, and how many individuals this man might have brushed up against and touched as he moved his way through the crowd and multitude to come unto Jesus.

In the opening verses of the eighth chapter we find this leper who dared brave the crowds, and who dared brave the multitudes, and I find it truly and absolutely captivating how the first account of one who would dare brave the crowds would be a leper who was considered by the Law of Moses unclean. This leper would dare come out of what might have been a life of isolation and separation that they might brave the crowds and the multitude in the hope that Jesus was willing to make them clean. What I find so interesting when reading this passage and this narrative is that this leper wasn’t even sure if Jesus would—or even if Jesus was willing to cleanse them of their leprosy. We know this man dared brave the crowds and dared brave the multitudes—even being a leper and being considered unclean according to the Law of Moses—in order that he might be cleansed by Jesus. As this man entered into the presence of Jesus—and not only entered into the presence of Jesus, but also entered into the presence of the multitude and crowd—he wasn’t even sure whether or not Jesus would be willing to cleanse him. This man would move and make his way through the crowds and through the multitude hoping that their coming into the presence of Jesus would result in their cleansing. We know nothing of how old this man was, nor even how long they had leprosy, but one thing we do know is that when they entered into the presence of Jesus they presenting their cleansing as being something Jesus either was or wasn’t willing to do. As this man entered into the presence of Jesus and worshipped Him, he would do so by declaring that if Jesus was willing, He would cleanse and make him clean. Pause for a moment and consider what a statement would have been for this man, for essentially what he was doing was placing his cleansing in the hands and heart of Jesus. This man was unsure whether or not Jesus would be willing to cleanse him, and he was willing to take the risk in braving the crowds and multitudes for the chance that Jesus might cleanse him. The apostle Matthew writes and records how Jesus responded to this man—first with a touch, and secondly with words. If you read the words in this passage you will find the apostle Matthew writing and recording how before Jesus even spoke a word to this leper who had dared brave the crowds and multitude He first stretched and put forth His hand, and touched him. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this, for you have to ask yourself when the last time was that someone was willing to touch this man. This man had undoubtedly spent a considerable amount of time living his life absent physical touch—whether being able to touch someone else, or even by touched by others.

When Jesus heard the words which were spoken by this man—when He heard this man declare unto Him that if He was willing He would make him clean—He didn’t initially, nor did He immediately speak anything to this man, but instead stretched forth His hand and touched Him. Stop and think about what this type of action, and what this type of contact would have meant for this man who had spent a considerable amount of time avoiding physical touch of any kind for fear of causing others to be unclean. Here we have this man who was willing to maneuver himself through and in the midst of the crowds that he might be cleansed of his leprosy. Scripture provides no indication of how this man thought—or even perceived—Jesus would have cleansed him of his leprosy. Perhaps this man was familiar with the narrative of Naaman the Syrian general who had leprosy, and how Naaman initially balked at Elisha’s instruction to dip himself seven times in the river Jordan. Scripture records how Naaman thought that Elisha would have waved his hand over him and over the leprosy which was upon his physical flesh, and that he would have been cleansed of his leprosy. There is absolutely no indication within this narrative and account of the leper concerning what he expected when entering into the presence of Jesus—other than knowing that if Jesus was willing He would cleanse Him. How incredibly beautiful it is to read this narrative and to not only see the willingness of Jesus to cleanse him, but also how even before Jesus would speak those words unto him, He would stretch forth His hand and touch him. Jesus would declare unto this man that He was willing to cleanse him, and Jesus would command him to be clean, and even before—perhaps even as He was speaking those words—Jesus would stretch forth His hand and touch him. I can’t help but wonder the collective gasp—perhaps even the collective shock and surprise—that might very well have been found in the midst of the crowds as they saw Jesus stretch forth His hand to touch this leper, for everyone knew you avoid contact with lepers. Not only this, but you certainly don’t deliberately and intentionally stretch forth your hand to touch and come in contact with one. It’s something truly worth noting and pointing out how Jesus would stretch forth His hand and would touch this leper not at all being concerned with the perception of men, nor even Himself being made unclean by doing so. It would have been absolutely and utterly impossible for Jesus to have been made unclean by touching this one who was a leper, and so Jesus not only stretched forth His hand and touched Him, but He also declared unto him that He was willing to make him clean, and then commanded him to be clean. Scripture records how immediately the leprosy was cleansed, and how Jesus then instructed him to tell no man, but to instead go his way, show himself to the priest, and offer that gift which Moses commanded as a testimony unto them.

If you continue reading the words found in the eighth chapter of the gospel which was written by the apostle Matthew you will find that after Jesus stretched forth His hand and touched, and after Jesus had cleansed this leper of his leprosy, He would enter and come into Capernaum. It would be there in Capernaum a certain centurion would come unto Him beseeching Him, saying, “Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.” In the opening verses of this chapter we find a leper—one who was considered unclean according to the Law of Moses—coming unto Jesus that he might be cleansed of his leprosy, and now as we continue reading the eighth chapter we find a Roman centurion coming into the presence of Jesus on behalf of his servant who was at him sick with the palsy and grievously tormented. This account is one that is worth noting and pointing out, for what we find here is that this centurion made no formal request of Jesus to heal his servant, but would simply declare unto Jesus that his servant lied at home sick of the palsy, and was grievously tormented. What we find Jesus speaking and saying unto this man is truly something remarkable and astonishing when you truly consider it, for we find Jesus using similar language to what He had just used with the leper. When speaking unto the leper Jesus declared that He was willing to make him clean, and now unto the centurion Jesus declared that He was willing to come with this centurion to his home, and to the place where his servant lie sick of the palsy, and would heal his servant. Stop and consider the tremendous weight and significance of what Jesus would speak and declare unto this centurion, for although the centurion did not—and perhaps even would not have asked Jesus to come with him unto his home, Jesus expressed a willingness to come. What’s more, is that not only did Jesus express a willingness to come with this centurion, but He also expressed a willingness to heal his servant. When considering the account and narrative of the leper Jesus declared that He was willing, and then commanded him to be clean. Now with the centurion the need would not be in the presence of Jesus, but would instead by in a completely different place and location. This centurion would come unto the presence of Jesus that he might make him aware of the need within his servant, and we aren’t given any type of clue as to what his expectation was upon entering the presence of Jesus. The only thing we know for certain is that this centurion would come unto Jesus and speak of his servant who lie at home sick with the palsy and was grievously tormented.

It’s incredibly remarkable how the centurion responded to Jesus, for even after hearing Jesus declare unto him that He was willing to come with him and heal his servant, the centurion would declare unto Jesus that he was not worthy to have Jesus come under his roof. What’s more, is that not only did this centurion declare that he was not worthy to have Jesus come under his roof, but he would also declare unto Jesus that He needed only speak the word alone, and his servant would be healed. Stop for a moment and consider the tremendous amount of faith, the tremendous amount of confidence, the tremendous amount of trust, the tremendous amount of belief this centurion had within his heart, for although Jesus was willing to come with him, and to come under his roof that He might heal his servant, the centurion was not willing to allow Jesus to come under his roof. What the centurion would do instead was emphatically and boldly declare unto Jesus that He needed only speak the word concerning his servant and his servant would be healed. Moreover, if you continue reading the words which the centurion spoke unto Jesus you will find him describing unto Jesus the tremendous authority that surrounds the spoken word, for the centurion himself was a man in authority, as well as was a man under authority. When speaking unto Jesus the centurion would declare that Jesus needed only speak the word and his servant would be healed, and the entire basis for this statement was his understanding of authority—not only authority he exercised over those under him, but also authority that was exercised over him. This centurion knew that he could speak a command to those under his authority and that if he spoke a word those under him would carry out what he requested. What’s more, is that this centurion recognized that if he was given a command by those who were over him he would have to carry out that instruction. It was this understanding of being a man under authority and a man in authority that allowed him to recognize and understand that the authority that had been given unto Jesus would allow Him to merely speak the word concerning his servant, and that servant would be healed based on the word alone. This centurion would not allow Jesus under the roof of his house—despite Jesus’ willingness to go with him and to heal his servant—and what he recognized and understood was that Jesus needed speak the word, and that from right where He was and his servant would be healed. What makes this all the more captivating is when you consider the fact that when Jesus heard the words which were spoken by the centurion concerning authority, He proceeded to declare that He had not found so great faith—not even in Israel.

It would be Jesus who would Himself declare that the words which this man expressed in His hearing was a tremendous display and declaration of faith, and that Jesus had not seen, nor had He found faith so great in all Israel. Jesus—upon hearing the words which the centurion spoke unto and before Him—would declare unto all those who followed Him that up to that point He had not found so great faith in all of Israel. What Jesus was truly and ultimately doing by speaking directly to the crowd which followed Him was not only putting on display the faith of this centurion, but also strengthening and enhancing the faith of the centurion. Imagine being the centurion and initially hearing Jesus declare his willingness to come with you unto your house that He might heal your servant, and then hear Jesus speak of your faith and how He had not found so great faith in all Israel. Keep in mind and make note of the fact that this centurion wasn’t Hebrew or Jewish by lineage and birth, and was for all intents and purposes a Gentile and heathen. This centurion was a Roman who served in the Roman army, and was undoubtedly stationed in the region of Judaea and Galilee according to the command of those in authority over him. What I so love about the centurion is that despite his being a Gentile, and despite his being a Roman, and despite his not being Jewish, he would still make his way to Jesus on behalf of his servant. We know from the gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke that there were soldiers who asked of John the Baptist what they ought to do, and we can’t help but wonder if this centurion had previously heard the words which John the Baptist had spoken, and it was that foundation which caused him to make his way unto Jesus. We know that this centurion thought absolutely nothing of his title or position, nor did he think anything of his not being a Hebrew, and deliberately and intentionally made his way to Jesus that He might heal his servant who lied home sick and grievously tormented. Perhaps the single greatest truth surrounding the centurion—particularly the words which Jesus spoke unto him—was that when Jesus spoke of his faith and not finding so great a faith in all Israel, He was in all reality strengthening that faith.

Imagine being the centurion and not only hearing Jesus commend and applaud your faith, but also hearing Jesus go on to speak concerning the kingdom of heaven, and how many would come from the east and west and would sit down with Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob. Jesus would commend and strengthen the faith of this centurion, and would then instruct him to go his way, for as he had believed, so would it be done unto him. How incredibly powerful it is to read how in that very same hour the servant of this centurion would be healed—and not even necessarily because of anything Jesus did, but because of the faith of the centurion. Pause for a moment and consider what it must have been like for this centurion to leave the presence and company of Jesus and return home to where his servant was and find his servant completely whole and healed of that which tormented him. Think about what it would have been like for the centurion to make his way back to his home where his servant lie and the expectation and anticipation that must have been in his heart concerning this one who lie sick and tormented. I can’t help but wonder what it was like for this centurion to have his faith being strengthened by Jesus in the company and presence of all those who followed him, and then leaving the presence of Jesus trusting and believing that the servant was either already healed, or was going to be healed. What a tremendous joy it would have been for the centurion to arrive at his home and find his servant completely and utterly whole and healed. Moreover, imagine what it would have been like for the centurion to see his servant healed and whole knowing what his faith had accomplished. DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR FAITH CAN ACCOMPLISH? DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR FAITH CAN ACCOMPLISH IN THE LIVES OF OTHERS? FAITH BEYOND YOURSELF! FAITH BEYOND YOUR OWN NEEDS! FAITH TO BELIEVE FOR OTHERS! This Roman centurion came into the presence of Jesus with a need—and not merely a need for himself, but a need for someone else—and as he left the presence of Jesus he would leave with his faith being strengthened. In all reality, you almost get the sense that Jesus deliberately and intentionally made the statement(s) He did unto this centurion that his faith might be strengthened to the point where that faith would be strong enough to believe that his servant would and could be healed. Jesus would deliberately and intentionally speak unto the Centurion that the centurion might be able to leave His presence being able to fully trust and believe that his servant would be healed.

What makes the narrative of the centurion so absolutely remarkable and astonishing is when you think about and consider the fact that Jesus would initially and originally speak and declare unto him that He was willing to come with him and heal his servant, but when the centurion would leave the presence of Jesus he would leave with Jesus declaring unto him that as he believed so it would be done unto him. Please do not miss the awesome importance surrounding this interaction with Jesus, for although Jesus initially declared unto the centurion that He would go with him and heal his servant—when the centurion actually left, he didn’t leave the presence of Jesus with a declaration that his servant was healed. Jesus did not declare unto the centurion that his servant had been healed, and that his servant would be healed—only that according to the faith of the centurion’s servant would be healed. In all reality, the healing of the centurion’s servant was entirely and altogether based on the faith, the trust, the confidence and the belief of the centurion, for Scripture speaks nothing concerning the faith of the servant. The centurion would leave the presence of Jesus knowing that according to his faith and according to what he has believed—perhaps not even according to what he believed, but also according to what he had spoken—so would be the condition of his servant. Jesus spoke unto the centurion and sent him out of his presence with the understanding that it would be his faith that would determine whether or not his servant would be healed. I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like for the centurion as he left the presence of Jesus with the understanding and expectation that according to his father and what he believed, so would be the condition of his servant. It would be the faith of the centurion and the trust that was within his heart that would ultimately bring about the healing of his servant who lie at home sick with the palsy and grievously tormented. How truly remarkable and incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that when Jesus sent the centurion away from His presence, He did so revealing unto the centurion the tremendous power that was present within his faith. Jesus would send the centurion out of His presence with one single understanding, and one single truth—namely, that there was power in the faith that was present within his heart. Jesus would declare unto the centurion that according to what he believed, so would his servant be healed. Stop for a moment and think about how Jesus not only strengthened the faith of this centurion by praising it in the hearing and presence of those who followed Him, but also by declaring unto the centurion that it would be his faith that would ultimately determine whether or not his servant would be healed and made whole.

As the centurion left the presence of Jesus he would leave with his faith having been challenged and strengthened, for the words which Jesus spoke unto those who follow Him would be that which strengthened his faith, while the words Jesus spoke unto the centurion would be the way Jesus would challenge his faith. IF there is one thing we must recognize and understand it’s that not only can and not only will Jesus strengthen our faith, but in the very same instance, and in the very same encounter He can also challenge that faith. Jesus praised the faith of the centurion in the company and presence of all those who walked with and followed Him, and yet when He would send the centurion out of His presence He would challenge that faith. THE CHALLENGE AFTER THE STRENGTH! FIRST COMES THE STRENGTH, THEN COMES THE CHALLENGE! FIRST COMES THE STRENGTHENING, THEN COMES THE CHALLENGING! FROM STRENGTHENING TO CHALLENGING! One of the most necessary truths we must learn and glean from the words found in this passage of Scripture is that not only can and not only will Jesus strengthen our faith, but in the very same instance, and in the very same encounter Jesus would strengthen our faith, He can also challenge it. The centurion would stand in the presence of Jesus and have his faith strengthened and increased as Jesus would declare how He hadn’t found so great faith in all of Israel, but then immediately Jesus would send him out of His presence with his faith being challenged. I am convinced it is absolutely necessary for us to recognize and pay close attention to what took place here within the life of the centurion, for while it was true Jesus strengthened, enhanced and increased the faith of the centurion, it was also true that Jesus directly challenged that faith by sending him out of His presence with the understanding that it would be done unto him according to his faith. That statement which Jesus would make would be the catalyst for directly challenging the faith of this centurion, and he would leave the presence of Jesus knowing that his servant being healed would not only be directly linked and connected to the word of Jesus, but also to the faith which was present within his own heart and soul. This is important for us to consider, for within the life of this centurion we find the challenging of his faith working directly with the word of Jesus. It would be the words of Jesus which would not only challenge his faith, but would also grant unto him that which he believed, and that which he could believe. Jesus declared that what he had petitioned Him for would in fact take place in the life of his servant, however, it would be in direct relation to the word Jesus spoke, and the faith which was present within the heart and soul of the centurion.

IS MY FAITH STRONG ENOUGH? DOES MY FAITH HAVE WHAT IT TAKES? DOES YOUR FAITH HAVE WHAT IT TAKES? IS YOUR FAITH STRONG ENOUGH? I can imagine what it was like for the centurion as he departed from the presence of Jesus after hearing the words He had spoken concerning his faith—and not only hearing the words He spoke concerning his faith, but also hearing the words which would simultaneously challenge that faith. I can’t help but think about and consider this centurion leaving the presence of Jesus wondering if his faith was strong enough to accomplish what he had entered the presence of Jesus for. This centurion would enter into the presence of Jesus on behalf of his servant, however, He would leave the presence of Jesus with the understanding this it would be his faith that would determine what would happen within the life of his servant. Stop for a moment and truly think about this reality, for I would imagine the centurion left the presence of Jesus wondering if the faith within his heart was indeed strong enough, and whether or not the faith within his soul could accomplish that which he originally set out to accomplish. This man could have allowed Jesus to come under his roof, and this centurion could have allowed Jesus to enter into his home and place His hand on his servant, and even Jesus Himself was willing to do so. I can’t help but wonder if Jesus knew the faith that was present in the heart and soul of this centurion and deliberately and intentionally declared He was willing to go with him and heal his servant knowing the response that He would be given. This centurion would enter into the presence of Jesus seeking his servant’s health and healing, and yet when he left the presence of Jesus it was not as much about the word which Jesus had spoken but about the faith which was present within his own heart and soul. It is truly something remarkable to read the narrative of this centurion and to not only see faith that is strengthened, but also faith that is challenged, for I would dare say that faith which cannot be challenged cannot accomplish what it desires. For faith to truly work it must not only and must not merely be strengthened and increased, but it must be challenged—even if that challenge comes from Jesus itself. If there is one thing we have to understand within this narrative it’s that the challenge of the centurion’s faith wasn’t the sickness of his servant—despite how grievous and tormenting that might be—but the words of Jesus spoken unto him, saying, “GO thy way; and as thou hast believe, so be it done unto thee.”

I have to admit that I am absolutely and completely challenged and convicted when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture, for more often than not we think and perceive the challenge of our faith as being that which we are facing and that which are going through. The truth of the matter, however, is that the challenge of our faith isn’t merely—and most of the time isn’t even the struggle or conflict we are facing, but is the reality that it is according to our faith that we receive and have what we ask for. This centurion came into the presence of Jesus speaking of his servant being sick and grievously tormented, and the initial request was in fact for the healing of his servant. Jesus would initially declare and proclaim unto the centurion that He would go with him and heal this servant, but the centurion would prohibit and prevent Jesus from coming under his roof. Instead of Jesus physically coming under the roof of the centurion  it would be the word which Jesus had spoken, as well as the faith which was found within the heart and soul of this centurion that would bring about what was initially requested and what was initially desired. What a truly incredible thought it is to consider how Jesus would praise, would encourage, would increase, and would strengthen the faith of this centurion upon hearing his words concerning Jesus merely speaking the word and his servant being healed, and then Jesus would immediately transition to challenging that faith. There is not a doubt in my mind that Jesus didn’t see and recognize the faith that was present within the heart and soul of this centurion, and He not only knew He could strengthen and increase it, but He also knew that He could challenge it. Even if the centurion perhaps struggled and wrestled with whether or not his faith would and could bring about the healing of his servant, he would find out when he entered his home and saw the condition of his servant. I still can’t help but think about and wonder what it would have been like for this centurion as he made his way from the presence of Jesus and would journey unto his home to see the condition of his servant. This centurion would receive no confirmation that his servant was healed, and even as he left the presence of Jesus he might very well have wondered if his faith was indeed strong enough to bring about the healing of his servant. Consider the utter delight and joy this centurion would experience when he got home as not only would his servant be healed, but so also would his faith be confirmed.

FAITH STRENGTHENED! FAITH CHALLENGED! FAITH QUESTIONED! FAITH CONFIRMED! Oh that we would read this particular narrative and account of the centurion and would understand that it was in the presence of Jesus his faith would be strengthened as Jesus would praise it in the company and hearing of all those who were present on this particular day. The faith of this centurion would also be challenged in the presence of Jesus, as Jesus would instruct and command the centurion to go his way [interesting that Jesus would tell him to go his way since the centurion spoke of speaking unto his servants telling them—either to “Go,” or to “Do.”] What we must realize and understand concerning Jesus’ command and instruction unto Jesus is not only that He was positioning Himself and His word in a place of authority in the life of this centurion, but He would also command and instruct the centurion to both “Go” and to “Do.” Jesus would instruct the centurion to “Go his way,” and as he went his way he was to believe and continue to believe. There was the initial command to go forth from the presence of Jesus, but there would also be the command to do what he was just praised for—namely, continuing to believe that which he knew Jesus was able to do. How truly incredible it is to read the words found within this narrative and account and consider how this centurion would be instructed to both go and do, as he would speak in the presence of Jesus how he himself would command servants to both “Go” and “Do.” The faith of this centurion would be challenged in the authoritative command of Jesus to go his way, and the declaration that according to what he believed, so would be the outcome of his faith—or lack thereof. There is not a doubt in my mind that as this centurion went his way the thought might very well have crossed his mind as he wondered whether or not his faith was strong enough to perform and accomplish what he had just spoken of in the presence of Jesus. What is worth noting is that upon returning home this centurion would find his servant healed—and not only healed, but was healed in the selfsame hour Jesus had spoken unto him declaring that according to his faith, so would be the condition of his servant. This centurion would leave the presence of Jesus having believed for the healing of his servant, and I would dare say that as he went along his way he would question whether or not his faith was enough to bring about the healing of his servant. That faith would be confirmed upon entering into his house and seeing his servant healed and completely whole. Oh that we would recognize and understand that a faith which cannot be challenged is a faith which cannot be confirmed, and a faith which cannot be confirmed is a faith which indeed accomplishes nothing.

As you continue reading the words which are found in the eighth chapter you will find Jesus entering into the house of Simon also called Peter, and upon entering into Simon’s house He would see Simon’s mother-in-law lying down sick with a fever. Upon seeing Simon’s mother-in-law sick and lying with a fever He would touch her hand, and in that very same moment the fever left her. Please don’t miss the awesome and incredible importance of what took place here, for what we find in this passage of Scripture is a Jesus who is not only willing to enter into our home, but also a Jesus who is willing to touch us—and not only touch us, but touch our infirmities. There is no indication that either Simon, nor his wife asked Jesus to heal this woman, and yet Jesus looked upon her, saw she was sick with a fever, and touched her hand. Immediately after Jesus touching her hand she the fever would leave her, she would be healed, and she arose and ministered unto them. It would be this initial healing of Simon’s mother-in-law that would then lead to many within that town bringing unto Jesus those which were possessed with devils. The apostle Matthew writes and records how Jesus would cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick. Please pay close attention to what is found within this passage of Scripture, for not only do we find Jesus being willing to stretch forth His hand and touch those in need, but we also find the tremendous and incredible power in the word(s) which Jesus speaks. The apostle Matthew writes and records how Jesus would cast out the evil spirits and devils simply with and simply by His word—and not only casting out devils with his word, but would also heal all that were sick. In the seventeenth verse of this chapter we find yet another instance of the apostle Matthew describing how Jesus’ life and How Jesus’ actions and ministry would fulfill that which was spoken of by the prophets. The apostle Matthew would take Jesus’ casting out of evil spirits with His word and His healing of the sick and would emphatically declare that it was a direct fulfillment of that which had been spoken in the prophets concerning Jesus taking our infirmities and baring our sicknesses. It would be in the Old Testament prophetic book of Isaiah that we find this ancient Hebrew prophet speaking of the Messiah which was to come, and of His willingness and ability to carry our sicknesses and our griefs. It would be in the fourth verse of the fifty-third chapter of the prophetic book of Isaiah we would find the following words which were spoken by the prophet: “Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:4).

After the apostle Matthew describes how Jesus’ healing of all who were sick, and His casting out spirits with a word was the fulfillment of that which was prophesied and spoken by the prophet Isaiah, he would then go on to again speak of and describe how Jesus would see great multitudes, and would give commandment for both He and His disciples to depart unto the other side. It would be at this time a certain scribe would come unto Him and would declare unto Jesus that he would follow Him wherever He went. Moreover, there would be another one of Jesus’ disciples that would come unto Him and in a way declare that He would follow Him, but first they needed to bury their father. Unto the scribe Jesus would declare how the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air had nests, but how the Son of man had no where to lay his head. Unto that disciple which spoke unto Jesus and asked for permission to bury their father Jesus would instruct them to let the dead bury their dead. Immediately after this we find Jesus entering into a ship intending to cross over to the other side, and His disciples following Him into the ship. While they were upon and in the midst of the sea there arose a great temptest in the sea insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves. What is actually astonishing about this narrative and account of Jesus and the disciples in the midst of the storm is that while Jesus would be in the midst of the ship and in the midst of the storm, He would be sound and fast asleep therein. There in the midst of the storm the disciples would come unto Jesus fearful and terrified in the midst of the storm—undoubtedly because they saw the wind and the waves that were crashing over and upon the ship. We know from this passage that Jesus would arise from the place where He was lying, would rebuke the winds and the sea, and that there was a great calm as the storm would immediately, completely and utterly dissipate and be destroyed. What I find as so absolutely remarkable within this passage is not only that Jesus was able to speak to the storm, but Jesus was able to sleep in the midst of the storm. There is a lot of emphasis that has been placed on Jesus speaking to the storm, however, there is very little that is spoken of Jesus sleeping in the storm. The question I find myself is asking is what requires greater trust and what requires greater faith—speaking to the storm, or sleeping in the storm.

I would dare say that speaking to the storm is more about authority as Scripture would reveal how the wind and the seas obeyed Jesus, while sleeping in the storm is about trust and confidence in the one true and living God. SLEEPING IN THE STORM! STANDING UP IN THE MIDST OF THE STORM! SPEAKING TO THE STORM! What we find in this passage are three distinct characteristics of Jesus, for we would find Jesus initially sleeping in the storm, and it would be the cries for help from His disciples that would cause Jesus to awake from His slumber. I find it truly astonishing and worth considering how even before Jesus arose from the place He was sleeping, and even before Jesus spoke to the storm He would speak unto the disciples and confront their fear. When the disciples came unto Jesus and spoke unto Him concerning their peril and demise Jesus would ask them why they were so fearful, and would then declare them to be those of little faith. It’s worth noting and pointing out that before Jesus spoke to the wind and the seas He would first speak unto the disciples—essentially bringing to a calm the storm that was raging within the hearts and souls of the disciples. That which is found and contained within this passage of Scripture is not only Jesus speaking unto the wind and the seas to be still, but also Jesus speaking unto His disciples that they themselves would be still, and that they themselves would be calm. How utterly and absolutely captivating it is to read the words contained in this passage, for before Jesus could and would speak to the storm He first needed to stand up in the midst of the storm. Pause for a moment and think about what great trust and confidence surrounds Jesus’ willingness to rise from the place where He had been sleeping and to stand up in the midst of the storm. Consider what great trust and confidence Jesus had in His heavenly Father that He was able to sleep in the midst of and sleep through a storm without at all being affrighted, and without at all being fearful and afraid. Not only was Jesus not fearful nor afraid as He slept in the midst of the storm, but Jesus would also be unafraid as He stood up in the midst of the storm and rebuked the wind and the waves. Jesus would be able to sleep in the midst of the storm because He placed His trust and confidence in His heavenly Father, and He would stand in the midst of the storm and speak to it knowing the authority the Father had to bring the sea and the wind to a complete and total still.

As you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find Jesus entering into the sheep and sleeping in the midst of the storm. It’s important to note a clear and present distinction between Jesus’ sleeping in the midst of the storm knowing that He was in the loving arms of is Father, and knowing that His Father was in complete and utter control; and Jonah’s sleeping in the midst of the storm as he attempted to flee from the presence of the LORD. Jonah slept in the midst of the storm as he was attempting to flee from the presence of Jesus, and as He was fleeing from that which the LORD had commanded and instructed him to carry out and fulfill. Jesus would sleep in the midst of the storm, and yet Jesus would perfectly fulfill that which the eternal and heavenly Father had commanded and instructed Him. Stop and think about the tremendous confidence and trust Jesus would have in His Father in heaven that He would be able to sleep in the midst of the storm, for Jesus would be able to sleep peacefully in the midst of the storm as although there was a storm raging all around them, there would be a complete and total calm in the midst of Jesus’ heart and soul. In all reality there were two storms that were present within this narrative and account, for there would be the visible and physical storm that was upon the sea, while there would also be an unseen storm that would be found in the hearts and souls of the disciples. What is truly worth noting and pointing out is that not only did Jesus address, speak to, and even rebuke the storm that was found within the hearts of the disciples, but Jesus also stood up and spoke to that storm on the outside which caused and produced the storm which was manifested within the hearts of the disciples. What a tremendous truth it is to read this narrative and this account and to find a Jesus who was wiling to speak to the physical storm which threatened the physical persons of the disciples, but Jesus was also willing to speak to an even greater storm that threatened the spiritual persons of the disciples. Although there was indeed a physical storm that would rage all around the disciples there in the midst of the sea, there would be another storm that would rage within their hearts, within their souls, and within their minds—one that would threaten to keep them bound by fear, by terror, and by dread. Jesus Himself would awake from His slumber and would calm the storm that would be manifested in the midst of the disciples, as well as the storm which was present upon the sea itself. At the end of it all—not only would the sea itself be completely calm and at peace, but so also would the disciples be completely calm and completely still.

The eighth chapter of the gospel narrative of the apostle Matthew would conclude with Jesus permitting a legion of demons and unclean spirits to enter into a herd of swine, thus causing them to race down a steep ledge and drown in the midst of the sea. The end of the eighth chapter would find Jesus departing from the coasts of the Gergesenes, while the ninth chapter describes how Jesus entered into another ship, and passed over, and would come unto His own city. Having come unto His own city there would be another brought unto Him who would be sick with the palsy and lying on a bed. That which is written and found within this passage of Scripture is quite intriguing when you take the time to think about and consider it, for the apostle Matthew describes how Jesus would see the faith of those who had brought this man sick with the palsy, and declare unto the man that his sins were forgiven him. Please pay close attention to this, for the narrative and account speaks and mentions absolutely nothing about this man’s sins and transgressions, and yet when Jesus saw the faith of those who had brought him into His presence, He first spoke to and addressed this man’s sins. Upon seeing the faith of those who brought this man unto Him Jesus would speak to the man, would call him Son, would instruct him to be of good cheer, and would declare unto him that his sins were forgiven him. It would be this statement and declaration that his sins were forgiven that would anger and offend the scribes and the Pharisees, for they would speak within themselves, saying how Jesus blasphemed. The apostle Matthew writes and records how Jesus knew the thoughts of the scribes and the Pharisees, and would confront the evil which they thought within their hearts. Jesus would then ask them what was easier, to say, “Thy sins be forgiven thee,” or to say, “Arise, and walk?” Jesus would then go on to declare that so they would know that the Son of man had power on earth to forgive sins—and would speak directly unto the man who was sick with the palsy—“Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.”

While there is so much more that is found and contained within these particular chapters, it is absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the narrative that is found within this passage of Scripture, for Jesus’ interaction with this man who was sick with the palsy not only included forgiveness of sins, but it would also include healing of his physical body. What makes the words contained here in this passage truly captivating is when you consider the fact that when speaking concerning this man Jesus would first and foremost declare concerning the man that his sins were forgiven—a statement which would greatly offend and upset the scribes and the Pharisees which were present on this day. After confronting and rebuking the scribes and Pharisees Jesus would then declare concerning this man that he was to rise from the place he was laying, take up his bed, and go unto his house. RISE UP AND TAKE WHAT HAS BOUND YOU! RISE UP AND TAKE WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN BOUND BY! RISE UP, TAKE UP WHAT HAS HELD YOU BACK, AND GO! ARISE, TAKE UP, AND GO! IN order to truly understand the words which are found within this passage it is necessary to consider the words which the LORD spoke unto Solomon by dream during the night, for the LORD declared unto Solomon that if His people which were called by His name would humble themselves, and pray, and seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways, then would He hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. Notice if you how forgiveness of sin preceded and came before the healing of the land, for this has always been the natural order in the economy and kingdom of God. We know that Jesus went throughout Judaea, Galilee, Jerusalem and the surrounding region healing the sick, raising the dead and casting out devils, however, we must recognize and understand that the truest and greatest miracle Jesus ever performed was offering forgiveness of sins to those who needed it. Jesus would declare unto this man that his sins were forgiven, and I can’t help but wonder if this was indeed the greater need and the greater joy within the heart and soul of this man. While this man would undoubtedly enjoy the healing of his physical body, I would dare say that this man took greater joy and delight in his sins being forgiven.

It is this concept of the forgiveness of sins—particularly and especially compared to the healing of one’s physical body—I would like to call and draw your attention to, as the question I can’t help but ask is whether or not you would be joyful if you never received physical healing within your body, and yet you knew within your heart and soul that your sins were forgiven in heaven. Would you still find joy and take great delight and pleasure knowing your sins were forgiven even if you perhaps didn’t receive physical healing within your body? Would the forgiveness of your sins be of greater worth and greater value within your heart and soul even if you never received that which you desired within your physical body? Is the condition of your soul of greater worth, of greater importance and of greater value that the condition of your physical body, as you confidently sing before the LORD that not only are your chains gone and that you’ve been set free, but also that you have been forgiven by the one true and living God? That which we find in this particular narrative is something worth focusing and paying attention to, for forgiveness of sins has always been and will always be the greatest miracle Jesus Christ our Lord done within and for us. We dare not allow ourselves to be caught up in the healing of our physical bodies and completely lose sight and fail to understand that the forgiveness of sins is of the utmost importance and significance—not only within our own hearts and lives, but also in eternity and within the kingdom of heaven.

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