Overcoming Conditions, Overcoming Crowds—Confidence & Courage to Come Boldly to the Person of Jesus

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle Matthew. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the eighth chapter of this New Testament book. When you come to the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel which the apostle Matthew wrote you will find Jesus having concluded the Sermon on the Mount—that sermon and message where He would teach and speak unto His disciples and followers concerning the kingdom of heaven. If there is one thing we must needs realize and understand concerning the kingdom of heaven it’s that the kingdom of heaven has at the very heart and center of it fellowship, relationship and community. At the very core and foundation of the kingdom of heaven is relationship with the Father which is in heaven—relationship which is made possibly by, because and through the eternal and only begotten Son which came unto the world in the form of human flesh. This relationship with the Father which is made possible by and through the Son is actually further explained and examined in the person of the Holy Spirit, for all those who are Christ’s and all those who belong to the Father have the eternal and holy Spirit dwelling within them. It is through the person, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to experience the person of Jesus the Christ, and it is through the person of Jesus Christ we are able to experience fellowship and relationship with the Father. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for at the very heart of the kingdom of heaven is relationship, fellowship—even community—with the eternal Father which is in heaven, the only begotten Son which is seated at the right hand of the Father, and with the blessed Holy Spirit who was sent unto and within the earth by Jesus Christ when He sat down at the right hand of His Father which was in heaven. [As a side note—I can’t help but wonder what it was like when Jesus arrived and returned in heaven after having not only endured the cross, but having been buried in the tomb for three days, after descending into the bowels and depths of hell itself, and after ascending with the keys of death, hell and the grave. What was it like in heaven when Jesus returned after rising from the dead on the third day according to the Holy Spirit which did indeed raise Him from the dead? What was it like when Jesus returned unto heaven in the company and presence of all the holy angels, the living creatures, the cherubim, the seraphim, and even His own Father which was seated upon the throne?]

            The more you think about and the more you consider the words which are found in the gospel narrative of Matthew—particularly and especially when you consider it in light of the kingdom of heaven—the more you will be brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that the kingdom of heaven has at the very heart and center of it relationship with the triune Godhead. With this being said, however, it is imperative that we recognize and understand that directly linked and associated with this relationship with God the Father together with the only begotten Son and the blessed Spirit is the concept of relationship and fellowship with the brethren. We cannot and must not speak about the kingdom of heaven without and apart from recognizing that the kingdom of heaven is directly linked to our fellowship with the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ—those who have been called and chosen to walk with and follow Him. Perhaps one of the greatest truths that is found in the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew is that when the brothers Simon and Andrew, as well as James and John were called by Jesus at the Sea of Galilee—not only were they called and chosen to walk with and follow Him, but they were also called and chosen to walk with and fellowship with each other. Simon and Andrew were called to walk with and fellowship with Jesus the Christ, but they were also called to walk with and fellowship with each other. Not only This, but these four brothers were indeed called to walk with and fellowship with each other, as walking with Jesus does indeed and does in fact require us to walk with those whom He has called and chosen unto Himself.

            You cannot read the Sermon on the Mount without coming face to face with the truly astonishing truth that at the very heart of the kingdom of heaven is fellowship, relationship and community, and how all of that begins with our fellowship and relationship with our Father which is in heaven. What’s more, is that it is through our relationship with God the Father which is in heaven that we are actually able to walk with and fellowship with others. Only to the degree and measure we walk with and fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ can we truly walk with and fellowship with others who have been called and chosen just as we are. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we understand this, for within the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by Matthew—not only do we find Simon and Andrew, as well as James and John being called to walk with and follow Jesus, but we also find great multitudes of men and women following Jesus. By the time the fourth chapter draws to a close and the fifth chapter begins we find great multitudes walking with and following Jesus—many of whom had heard Jesus teach in their synagogues, many of whom had heard Jesus preach concerning the kingdom of heaven, and many of whom had experienced a personal healing and miracle within their hearts and lives. As you come to the end of the fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel which was written by the apostle Matthew you will find a great multitude of people now walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ—and not only this, but immediately after He began teaching and preaching repentance for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. How absolutely incredible and tremendous it is to think and consider that immediately after Jesus declared and proclaimed the kingdom of heaven was at hand He would deliberately and intentionally invite men to walk with and follow Him. You cannot read the fourth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew and not see Jesus inviting two sets of brothers—Simon and Andrew, as well as James and John—to walk with and follow Him.

            As the fourth chapter draws to a close you will find Jesus teaching in the synagogues of Galilee, you will find Jesus preaching and teaching concerning the kingdom of heaven, and you will find Him healing all manner of sickness, disease and illness among those whom He encountered. It was because of the words which He spoke and the works which He wrought among men that great multitudes and great crowds would begin walking with and following the Lord Jesus Christ. When the fifth chapter of this gospel narrative begins and opens it does so with the emphatic declaration that there were great multitudes of men and women which walked with and followed Jesus because of the words which they heard Him speak and the works which they witnessed Him perform. Not only this, but there were many who would experience the works which Jesus wrought during those days within their own lives as Jesus would caused blinded eyes to see, as Jesus would cause deaf ears to hear, as Jesus would cause the lame to walk, as Jesus would undoubtedly heal men and women of leprosy and all other forms of sickness and disease. Oh we must needs realize and understand this, for when we come to the conclusion of the fourth chapter we are brought face to face with the awesome and incredible truth that as a direct result of the words which Jesus spoke and the works which He wrought unto and among men during those days many would begin walking with and following Him. The fourth chapter of this New Testament gospel would end and conclude with great multitudes from Judaea, from Galilee, from Syria, from Jerusalem, and from the Decapolis walking with and following Jesus, as Jesus would not walk in this life alone. Concerning Jesus Christ and the demonstration and manifestation of the kingdom of heaven we must needs understand that on the one hand we find Jesus walking in fellowship with the twelve disciples for three and a half years, but on the other hand we also find Jesus walking in fellowship with the great crowds and multitudes which would walk with and follow Him because of the great signs, wonders and miracles He would perform, as well as the works which He would teach among them.

            Between chapters four and eight—essentially between the works which Jesus would perform and work in the midst of the earth we find perhaps one of the greatest teachings concerning the kingdom of heaven. It would be in chapters five through seven of this gospel the apostle Matthew presents us with Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. It is within this sermon Jesus would not only teach His disciples concerning the righteousness of the kingdom, but He would also teach them concerning the attitudes of the kingdom. It would be within this sermon Jesus would invite His disciples and those who would walk with and follow Him to bring themselves in alignment with the authority of the kingdom, and to bring themselves under the government which was at the very center of that kingdom. When speaking of the kingdom of heaven it is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and understand that the kingdom of heaven does indeed and does in fact have a King, and that King does indeed and does in fact sit upon a throne. We dare not, we cannot and must not seek to speak of the kingdom of heaven without and apart from recognizing and understand that directly linked to the kingdom of heaven is a divine order, a divine authority, and a divine government that is found within it. You cannot truly understand the kingdom of heaven without recognizing and understanding the nature of the King and the presence of the throne, for it is the nature of the King who is seated upon the throne that sets forth that which is required, asked and demanded in the midst of the kingdom. Oh how we must needs realize and understand that there can be no discussion surrounding the kingdom of heaven without also understanding that there is a certain order, there is a certain authority and there is a certain government that is present within it. What’s more, is that there can be no kingdom of heaven without and apart from the King who is seated upon the throne, and we must needs understand that there is indeed a King who is seated upon the throne in heaven. When Jesus came preaching the kingdom of heaven, that which He was ultimately professing and proclaiming was that there was a King and an authority that was higher than anything that was present in the midst of the earth. Despite the fact that Rome was the dominant super power during those days, and despite the fact that Caesar was the most powerful individual in the known world at that time, there was a higher authority, there was a greater government, and there was an even greater King whose kingdom was not of the earth, but rather was of heaven.

            With this being said, we must also recognize that directly linked and directly connected to the kingdom of heaven is our relationship to and our relationship with others. We must understand that the kingdom of heaven isn’t only about our dealings with our brethren and with those who walk with and follow Jesus together with us. The kingdom of heaven is about our dealings with those around us—even those who do not yet walk with and fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. If you read the words which are found in the fifth chapter of this gospel narrative you will find Jesus speaking of enemies, those who hate us, those who curse us, and even those who despitefully use and persecute us. Oh it is absolutely necessary that we pay close and careful attention to this, for what we find here within the fifth chapter is a powerful breakdown of those whom we might very well have interaction with, and those who we might very well come in contact with in this life. We would be incredibly naïve to think and consider for a single moment that our dealings and interactions with others in this life will be solely with those who walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, and those who we would consider as our brethren. We would be incredibly deceived to think about and consider that in this life we can and will have dealings solely with those who have made the decision to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. What makes this even more naïve is when you think about and consider the fact that in the Sermon on the Mount we find Jesus instructing us to forgive others the trespasses they have committed against us, rejecting the need and urge to judge others, as well as doing unto others as we would have them do unto us. How incredibly powerful it is to think and consider that Jesus didn’t instruct us to do unto others as they have done unto us, or even as they are doing unto us, but rather to do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

            The more I read and the more I study the New Testament gospels the more I can’t help but encounter the absolutely awesome and powerful that there was absolutely no judgment, nor was there any cynicism within the heart of Jesus. If you take the time to read and study the gospel narratives which were written by the gospel authors you will find that with the exception of the scribes, the Pharisees, the chief priests, and the elders of the people of Israel who deliberately and intentionally rejected, despised, opposed and persecuted Him, Jesus continually saw the best in those He encountered. You cannot find in any of the gospel narrative Jesus having any cynicism within His heart, nor will you find Jesus being distrusting towards others. I am fully aware of that which is found in the gospel narrative written by the apostle John and how Jesus didn’t entrust Himself unto all men because He knew what was in their hearts, however, the more you read the gospel narratives the more you will find Jesus exercising and demonstrating compassion unto those whom He encountered. It made no difference whether you were a sincere Pharisee such as Nicodemus who came to Him by night, or a Roman centurion who came to him on behalf of his servant who lie at home sick, or even publicans such as the apostle Matthew and Zacchaeus. Time and time again within and throughout the gospel narratives you will find Jesus demonstrating compassion toward those whom He encountered, and even when you come to the ninth chapter of this gospel narrative you will find the apostle Matthew emphatically declaring how Jesus looked out and saw the crowds and multitude of people before Him and how He had compassion on them because He saw them as sheep without a shepherd. Time and time again within and throughout the public life and ministry of Jesus you will find Him walking in compassion and affection toward others, as He demonstrated a truly wonderful and powerful willingness to heal sickness and disease, raise those from the dead, cause the lame to walk, cleanse leprosy, open the blinded eyes and deaf ears, cause the dumb and mute to speak, and so much more. In all reality, there wasn’t anyone Jesus wasn’t willing to touch and interact with—even those who were considered unclean according to the Law of Moses. Time and time again within the gospel narratives you will find Jesus walking with publicans and sinners, and even touching, associating with, healing and cleansing those who were considered unclean during those days.

            When I come to the eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew I am brought face to face with the personal and intimate side of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the fourth chapter we find Jesus healing all manner of sickness and disease which was brought unto Him, and how as a direct result of this great crowds of people walked with and followed Him. In the fourth chapter—what began with calling and choosing four men to walk with and follow Him would eventually crescendo into a great multitude of men and women who would now walk with and follow Him. At the end of the fourth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we find it written how Jesus healed all manner of sickness and disease, and how that was directly linked and connected to the great multitude of people which were before and all around Him. Jesus taught in the synagogues in Galilee, Jesus preached concerning the kingdom of heaven, and Jesus healed all manner of sickness and disease, and as a direct result of this great multitudes began walking with and following Jesus. No longer was it simply Jesus and the brothers Simon and Andrew, and Jesus and the brothers James and John. Now it was Jesus together with the great crowds and multitudes of men and women who would walk with and follow Him as a direct result of the words He spoke and the works which He wrought among them in their midst. At the end of the fourth chapter, at the beginning of the fifth chapter, and at the end of the seventh chapter we find it written concerning the great crowds and multitudes of men and women, and yet when you come to the eighth chapter of the gospel you will notice an additional element of the public life and ministry—namely, the individual and personal element.

            THE PERSONAL SIDE OF THE KINGDOM! THE INTIMATE SIDE OF THE KINGDOM! As I come to the eighth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew I find myself being absolutely and incredibly captivated by this seemingly new element of the ministry of Jesus—and not only this new element of the ministry of Jesus, but also of the kingdom of heaven itself. When we read the words which are found in the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we must needs recognize that while there is indeed this corporate element of the ministry of Jesus where He would minister unto and among the crowds, there is also this personal element that is found as well. If there is one thing I absolutely love about the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ it’s that He wasn’t one who operated solely and entirely among the crowds, but was one who was willing and able to engage with those individuals who came to Him themselves. There were those individuals who didn’t come unto Jesus the Christ in the midst of the crowds, or even with large crowds and multitudes, but those who came to Jesus just as they were and by themselves. There were those within and during the public life and ministry of Jesus the Christ who found themselves in such a tremendous place of need that they rose up from wherever they were and came unto Jesus with their need, with their burden, and with that was afflicting and oppressing them. There were those within the public life and ministry of Jesus who came unto Him without any hesitation and without any reservation as they desired to be healed, cleansed, delivered and set free from that which oppressed them, and that which had been such a tremendous burden within their hearts and lives. What’s more, is that when you read the words which are found in the eighth chapter you will find that when Jesus came down from the mountain there were great multitudes that followed Him. Please make note of this, for even when the teaching of the Sermon on the Mount was finished and completed there would still be great multitudes of men and women who would walk with and follow Jesus. As the eighth chapter of this gospel narrative begins and opens it does so with multitudes continuing to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus Christ, and how in the midst of those crowds and multitudes there would come one who had a need that was personal and intimate.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering that which is found within this chapter and I find myself being absolutely and entirely captivated with and by the fact that when the eighth chapter begins—not only does it begin with great multitudes following Jesus, but it also begins with a leper who came unto Jesus and worshipped Him. It is absolutely necessary that we pay close attention to this, for if you were a leper during those days—the last thing you would do was insert yourself in the midst of great crowds and multitudes. If you were a leper during those days you were considered to be one who was unclean, and you would in all reality avoid crowds and multitudes. If you were a leper during those days you were not only unclean according to the Law of Moses, but you were also considered to be unclean in the eyes of others. Moreover, if you were a leper during those days you were largely marginalized and ostracized by those before and all around you as men and women would avoid you at all cost. Being a leper during the days of Jesus—and not only during the days of Jesus, but even from the days of Moses leading up to those days—was one that carried with it a tremendous burden of isolation and loneliness as you were in all reality cut off and separated from others. If you were a leper during those days the chances of you having fellowship and relationship with others was most likely slim to none as you would have to work to ensure others did not come in contact with you, for if they did they too would be unclean for a period of days. Not only this, but if you were a leper during those days you would have to cry out wherever you went declaring that you were unclean. Perhaps one of the greatest truths surrounding this leper was that after perhaps several years of crying out “Unclean” in the streets and in the synagogues he would come unto Jesus and did not pronounce his uncleanness in the sight of Jesus. As you read the words found in this passage you will not find this leper entering into the presence of and coming unto Jesus declaring himself to be unclean—this despite the fact that he would say unto the Lord, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”

            THE TRANSITION FROM ISOLATION TO BRAVING THE CROWDS! THE TRANSITION FROM CRYING OUT UNCLEAN, TO CRYING OUT TO BE MADE CLEAN! I absolutely love reading the narrative of this leper, for whereas he had spent a considerable amount of time crying out in the streets that he was unclean, he would now enter into the presence of Jesus and declare that if He was willing He would make Him clean. Not only this, but before we even find this leper speaking these words before and unto Jesus, we find him worshipping Him. Within this passage and within this narrative we find this leper worshipping Jesus, and I can’t help but wonder how often and how many times this leper had been unable to worship because of his condition. How many times had this leper felt that he could not truly worship the living God because of his condition? How many times did this man’s leprosy not only keep him from fellowship and community with others, but also fellowship and community with the Father which was in heaven. Oh I absolutely love reading the words which are found within this passage of Scripture and encountering this leper who came unto Jesus and entered into His presence, and the very first thing He did when entering into the presence of Jesus is worship Him. Even before he declared in unto Jesus in the company and presence of all those who were present on this day that Jesus could make him clean, he would worship Him right there in that place. Oh there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder how liberating and how freeing that must have been for this particular leper who had perhaps spent so much time living his life in a place where he couldn’t worship—perhaps even didn’t worship because of his condition. Here we have this leper braving the crowds—even braving the criticism he might receive for daring to enter in and move among the crowds—that he might make his way unto Jesus. Perhaps one of the greatest truths that is found within the gospel narratives are those men and women who were considered unclean according to the Law of Moses and those in society, as well as those who were largely ostracized and marginalized who dared to brave the crowds that they might come unto Jesus to receive that which they so desperately need within their hearts and lives.

            WHEN HE WAS COME DOWN FROM THE MOUNTAIN, GREAT MULTITUDES FOLLOWED HIM, AND, BEHOLD, THERE CAME! WHEN HE WAS COME DOWN FROM THE MOUNTAIN, GREAT MULTITUDES FOLLOWED HIM, AND, BEHOLD, THERE CAME A LEPER! WHEN HE WAS COME DOWN FROM THE  MOUNTAIN, GREAT MULTITUDES FOLLOWED HIM, AND, BEHOLD, THERE CAMEA  LEPER AND WORSHIPPED HIM! WHEN LEPERS BRAVE THE CROWDS AND WORSHIP THE MESSIAH! WHEN LEPERS BRAVE THE CROWDS AND EXCLAIM FAITH! WHEN LEPERS BRAVE THE CROWDS AND PROFESS CONFIDENCE IN THE LORD JESUS TO HEAL THEM! One of the truths and realities found within the gospel narratives is that even though there would be great crowds and great multitudes of people who would follow Jesus—undoubtedly crowd around and press up against Him—there would be those who would dare brave the crowds, and would dare make their way through the crowds that they might ultimately come unto Jesus with their need. It wasn’t just that this man sought to make his way through the crowd to encounter and come unto Jesus, and it wasn’t just that this man had a need within his physical body that thrust him into the presence of Jesus in the midst of the crowd—it was that this man was a leper, and undoubtedly spend a considerable amount of time isolated and cut off from relationship, and unable to worship freely in the synagogue because of his condition. There is a part of me that can’t help but feel concerning this man that he was one who had spent a considerable amount of time isolated, separated and cut off from those all around him, and was essentially an outsider living in the land of inheritance, promise and blessing. Stop for a moment and think about that tremendous truth—the fact that you could live and dwell in the land of promise and blessing and yet be an outsider. It was indeed possible to be in the land of inheritance and promise and yet be entirely and altogether isolated and set apart from those all around you because of the condition within your physical body. This man had perhaps spent a good portion of his life needing to stay away from crowds, and needing to avoid great multitudes, and yet what we find here is an unwavering willingness within his heart and mind to brave the crowds that he might come unto Jesus.

            I have to admit that I absolutely love the narrative of this man who was unclean, yet who dared brave the crowds that he might enter into and come unto the One who was entirely and altogether clean. It wasn’t merely the matter of Jesus being able to make this man clean of his leprosy, but Jesus was indeed and was in fact entirely and altogether clean. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the significance of this, for what we find here is an awesome and powerful picture of that one who had spent a considerable amount of time living as unclean in a world that was all around him coming into the presence of that One who was entirely and altogether clean. Not only did this man come into the presence of that One who was altogether clean, but he came into His presence knowing and believing that if He was willing He would and could make Him clean. It’s almost as if this man was declaring unto Jesus and saying, “Lord, I know that you are clean, and I know that with you all things are possible, and if you are willing, you can make me clean.” What I absolutely love about the words this man spoke unto Jesus was that He didn’t say, “Lord, if you are able, you can make me clean.” When reading these words you will not find this man saying, “Lord, if thou art able, thou canst make me clean.” Please don’t miss and lose sight of these words, for these words can and will bring us face to face with the awesome truth that this men never doubted for a single moment that Jesus was able to heal him, and when he came into the presence of Jesus he first worshipped, and then spoke unto Jesus concerning that which He was willing to do for and in him. We have great need to pay close attention to this, for there is something truly awesome and powerful about this man’s willingness to not only brave the crowd being unclean as a leper, but also coming unto Jesus and worshipping Him professing faith, trust and confidence. This man wholeheartedly believed that Jesus was able to heal him, and the question was not one of Jesus’ ability to heal him, but rather His willingness to heal him. In all reality, there might have been some part of this man’s heart that was perhaps apprehensive as to whether or not Jesus would indeed and would in fact heal him. When entering into the presence of Jesus he would do so making a statement that positioned Christ and His willingness to bring healing and cleansing within his physical body.

            The more you delve into the words which are found in the eighth chapter of this gospel narrative the more you will be brought face to face with the awesome and incredible presence and display of faith—not only in the heart and soul of this leper, but also in the heart and soul of the centurion who also dared come unto Jesus in the midst of the great crowds and multitudes. One of the greatest truths surrounding this particular chapter is not only the person and individual element of thos who were willing to enter into the presence of Jesus, but also those who were willing to make their way through the crowds and great multitudes of people to where Jesus was. In the case of the leper who was considered unclean according to the Law of Moses, and the Roman centurion who was perhaps viewed entirely differently by the people of Judaea and Galilee being a Gentile—both were willing to make their way from where they dwelt that they might come into and unto the presence of Jesus with the need that was before them. I absolutely love what is found in the opening verses of the eighth chapter, for in the opening verses of this chapter we are brought face to face with his man who was a leper—not only daring to make his way through a great multitude of people who followed Jesus, but who was willing to transition himself from beyond that place of isolation, beyond that place of separation, and perhaps even beyond that place of loneliness and come unto Jesus the Christ. Undoubtedly this man had heard of the great many signs, wonders and miracles Jesus had performed, and how great multitudes of people had been healed by the Lord Jesus Christ, and it was based on what he had heard that not inspired faith within his heart and soul, but also confidence and courage. If we are being absolutely truthful and honest when reading the words which are found within this passage we must notice two distinct realities which were present within the heart of this particular leper, for not only do we find confidence in the Lord’s ability to heal and make him clean, but we also find courage to be able to brave the crowds and multitudes of people which were before Jesus Christ, and to make their petition known before and unto Him.

            We know from the words which the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote that since we have this great confidence we are to approach and come boldly before the throne of grace to receive mercy and grace to help in time of need. What makes these words truly all the more remarkable is when you think about them from the perspective of the countless men and women which were present during the days in which Jesus walked upon the earth. It is when you read the words found in the New Testament gospels that you will find men and women who not only needed a tremendous amount of confidence in who Jesus was based on what they had seen and heard, but there also needed to be a tremendous amount of courage to make their ways unto Jesus—perhaps braving the crowds which were usually gathered around the Son of God. It’s actually quite interesting to think about and consider that perhaps one of the main sources of the confidence which men and women had within their hearts and lives during the days and times Jesus walked upon the earth was that which they had seen and that which they had heard concerning Jesus. There were undoubtedly countless men and women who had heard stories and accounts of what Jesus had done within the lives of others, and as a direct result of that which they heard faith, trust and confidence was allowed to rise up within their hearts. Undoubtedly there were countless men and women who had even witnessed the works which Jesus wrought in the lives of others, and as a direct result of the works which they witnessed with their own eyes they had the confidence within their hearts and souls to come boldly before and unto the person of Jesus. What’s more, is that we must needs realize that coming unto Jesus during those days was much like coming unto the throne of God in our days. The author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews spoke of our coming boldly unto the throne of grace and we must needs recognize and understand that the boldness we have to come unto the throne of grace is not only based on what we hope to receive, but also based on the confidence which we have within our hearts and our spirits.

            COURAGE IS A DIRECT RESULT OF CONFIDENCE! CONFIDENCE IS A DIRECT RESULT OF HEARING! “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). We must needs recognize and understand the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for when speaking of faith we have to know and understand that faith comes indeed and does in fact come by hearing, and hearing comes by the word of God. There were those who were present during the days and times of Jesus, and those whose hearts were filled with faith, with trust and with confidence, and we must needs realize and understand how that faith was not only fueled by the stories and accounts they heard from those who had experienced the works of Christ in their own life, but also by that which they had witnessed and beheld with their own eyes. If you turn and direct your attention to the first epistle which was written by the apostle John you will find him writing and speaking about that which they saw, that which they heard, that which they handled and touched with their own hands. It was that which they saw, that which they heard, and that which they touched and handled with their own hands that they actually preached unto others. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and pay close attention to this, for it brings us face to face with the tremendous confidence that can indeed be found within one’s heart—a confidence that does indeed and does in fact produce a courage and boldness. There is not a doubt in my mind when reading the words which are found in the eighth chapter of this gospel narrative that both the leper and the Roman centurion not only had courage to come unto what was the equivalent of the throne of grace during those days—the person of Jesus the Son of Nazareth—but that courage was fostered and fueled by a tremendous confidence within their hearts. For the leper he was confident that Jesus was able to heal and cleanse him, and for the Roman centurion we find his confidence in knowing that all Jesus had to do was speak the word and his servant would be healed. Stop for a moment and consider just how great and just how tremendous the confidence within the hearts of these two men truly was—the confidence of the leper on behalf of his cleansing, and the confidence of the Roman centurion on behalf of his servant.

I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found within the eighth chapter and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the awesome and tremendous link between confidence and courage, and how both are entirely and altogether necessary when we are seeking to receive within our lives—and perhaps not only for us, but for others—the touch of Jesus and the touch of God. The leper came unto Jesus—perhaps after years of being isolated, separated and alone—and came unto Jesus with both the courage to make his way through the crowds, and with the confidence knowing that if Jesus was willing He would and could make Him clean. We must needs understand and note that this leper didn’t come unto Jesus and worship Him and then declare unto Him that if He was able He could make him clean, but rather if He was willing He could make him clean. We must needs realize and recognize this, for it brings us face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that this leper had a tremendous and wonderful courage that was found within his heart to brave the crowds and multitudes which surrounded Jesus, and the overwhelming confidence to know that Jesus would and could indeed make him clean. I read the words found within this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the truly awesome and powerful truth that what is contained therein is a powerful picture of courage and confidence—both of which are absolutely critical and vital when seeking to come unto the presence of Jesus. The more I read the words found in the gospel narratives the more I encounter various examples of men and women who needed to not only exhibit tremendous confidence within their hearts and souls in what they heard He was capable of doing, but also needing to exhibit courage within their hearts. More often than not that there individuals who desperately needed to display a tremendous amount of courage within their hearts and souls that they might be able to overcome their condition—and not only overcome their condition, but also be willing to make their way through the crowds that they might come unto the presence of Jesus.

OVERCOMING CONDITIONS! OVERCOMING CROWDS! OVERCOMING CONDITIONS, OVERCOMING CROWDS—CONFIDENCE AND COURAGE TO COME BOLDLY BEFORE THE PERSON OF JESUS! If there is one thing this particular passage presents me with when and as I read it is that there were countless men and women who desperately needed to overcome the physical condition that was present within their flesh—and not only the physical condition within and upon their bodies, but also within their hearts and minds. Think about what it would have taken this leper to make His way from where he was through the crowds that he might come unto that place where Jesus was. Think about what the Law of Moses would have required him to do and how the Law of Moses would have required to live—this not even including how the religious system and establishment would have forced him to live during those days. I cannot help but be absolutely and incredibly astonished to think about and consider how this leper would have had to overcome the physical condition of being unclean, as well as overcoming the emotional and mental condition of what being unclean had meant for him so long within his heart and life. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how important this truly is, for there are times within our hearts and lives when our coming boldly unto the throne of grace not only requires confidence, and it not only requires courage, but it also requires us to overcome the condition we have struggled with for so long. Scripture does not indicate how long this man had been a leper, but one thing we can be absolutely certain of is that in order to come into the presence of Jesus he needed to overcome that which having leprosy had meant. Perhaps for quite some time the leprosy that was found within and upon his physical body would have meant his being isolated, separated and in all reality cut off from those around him completely unable to enjoy and experience relationship with others. We don’t know how bad the leprosy truly was upon his physical flesh, but we do know what the law of Moses required of those who had leprosy upon their physical person. What I so love and appreciate about this leper is that he was willing to overcome the stigma that surrounded leprosy in order that he might make his way unto Jesus the Christ.

            In order for the leper to make his way unto Jesus he needed to overcome the condition of having leprosy, and needed to overcome the great crowds which were before and around Jesus the Christ. In order for the Roman centurion to make his way unto Jesus he needed to overcome the stigma—the condition if you will—of being a Roman, and perhaps being considered unclean. What we must needs realize in the case of both of these men is that not only was Jesus willing to make the leper clean of the leprosy that was upon his physical flesh, but so also was Jesus willing to go with the Roman centurion unto his house. Scripture clearly indicates that Jesus was willing to make this leper clean—and not only make this leper clean, but also restore that which had undoubtedly been missing from his life. The gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew wonderfully and powerfully presents us with the awesome and powerful reality that Jesus expressed unto the Roman centurion that He was indeed willing to journey with him unto his home—and not only journey with him unto his home, but also come under his roof that He might make this servant whole. CLEANSING LEPERS AND COMING UNDER ROOFS! How truly wonderful and beautiful it is to read the narratives found within this passage of Scripture and to encounter a Jesus who is not only willing to come under our roof that He might bring healing and restoration, but a Jesus who is willing to make us clean. Despite the fact that we have spent a considerable amount of time being unclean, and despite the fact that we might have spent a considerable amount of time being ostracized and marginalized by others there is One who is willing to stretch forth His hand to make us clean, and One who is willing to speak the word to bring healing.

            I WILL; BE THOU CLEAN! I WILL COME AND HEAL HIM! AND JESUS PUT FORTH HIS HAND, AND TOUCHED HIM! AND JESUS SAID UNTO THE CENTURION! I absolutely love the words which are found within this passage of Scripture, for within this portion of Scripture, for within this passage of Scripture—not only do we find the Lord Jesus Christ willing to make a leper clean by stretching forth His hand to touch him, but we also find Jesus being willing to travel with this Roman centurion unto his home. What’s more, is that we also find Jesus willing to enter into the home of this Roman centurion and go to the very place his servant was lying that He might make him whole by offering healing. Imagine what it would have looked like unto those who were watching and witnessing as Jesus not only allowed this leper to come before Him and worship Him, but was also willing to heal and make Him clean. What’s more, is that Jesus would stretch forth His hand and touch Him as, and perhaps even before He made the declaration that He was willing to make Him clean. It absolutely astounds and amazes me to read the words which are found within this passage of Scripture for when the leper came before and came unto Jesus declaring that if He was willing He could make him clean—we first find Jesus stretching forth His hand, we next find Jesus touching this man, we then find Jesus emphatically declaring “I will,” and then we final find Jesus commanding this man to be clean. Oh here was this man who demonstrated a tremendous amount of courage and confidence to even make His way unto Jesus while being unclean—and not only making His way unto Jesus, but also being willing to brave the crowds and make his way through the crowds. I love how Jesus was not only willing to make this man clean, but Jesus was also willing to take the extra step and actually stretch forth His hand to make this man clean. It would have been one thing for Jesus to simply speak the word and make this man clean, however, Jesus would take it a step further and not only stretch forth His hand, but also touch this man. Pause for a moment and see this event unfold—not only from the view of the leper who came unto Jesus unclean desiring to be clean, but also from the standpoint and view of the great multitude and crowd as they not only watched Jesus stretch forth His hand, but also touch this man.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the truly awesome and powerful truth surrounding this exchange between Jesus and this leper and I am absolutely gripped and captivated with and by the fact that we find Jesus being willing to stretch forth His hand and touch this man. I continue to find it absolutely incredible that Jesus could have merely spoken the word only and cleansed this man, however, before Jesus even spoke the word the apostle Matthew writes and records how Jesus stretched forth His hand and touched the man. For this leper who was unclean according to the Law of Moses, and for this leper who was unclean in the sight of man he would experience this Jesus whom he had perhaps heard so much about being willing to heal and make him clean, but I would even dare say there was something else Jesus did for this man. Merely speaking the word and cleansing this man would have been entirely and altogether easy and would have given this man exactly and precisely what he came unto Jesus for, however, Jesus was willing to stretch forth His hand and touch this man. Imagine what it was like for this man as he watched Jesus begin to stretch forth His hand, and even more so as Jesus would actually touch him. Scripture is absolutely and entirely unclear as to where Jesus touched this man, or even how long Jesus’ hands were on this man, however, I would venture to say that when Jesus stretched forth His hand to touch this man He touched and placed His hands on the very place where the leprosy was. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that Jesus stretched forth His hand and touched this man—and not only touched this man, but also most likely touched that place of uncleanness within this man’s physical flesh.

            WHEN JESUS SHOWS UP AND TOUCHES THOSE PLACES OF UNCLEANNESS WITHIN YOUIR LIFE! WHEN JESUS SHOWS UP AND TOUCHES THOSE PLACES OF UNCLEANNESS WITHIN YOUR HEART! WHEN JESUS STRETCHES FORTH HIS HANDS AND TOUCHES THOSE PLACES OF UNCLEANNESS WITHIN YOUR MIND! JESUS ISN’T AFRAID OF YOUR UNCLEANNESS! JESUS DOESN’T SHY AWAY FROM THAT WHICH IS UNCLEAN! JESUS IS NOT ONLY WILLING TO TOUCH THOSE PLACES THAT ARE UNCLEAN, BUT JESUS IS ALSO WILLING TO MAKE THOSE PLACES CLEAN!

            The more you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you more you will find this element and aspect of cleanness—and not only this element of cleanness, but also Jesus’ interaction and willing to work with it. In the opening verses of the eighth chapter—not only do you find Jesus being willing to make clean that which was previously unclean, but you also find Jesus being willing to stretch forth His hand and touch that which was unclean. I cannot help but read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and encounter the awesome and incredible truth that not only was Jesus willing to make this leper clean, but when He stretched forth His hand and touched this man, I would dare say that He touched that place upon His physical flesh that was unclean. I would dare say that when Jesus stretched forth His hand to touch this particular leper He would deliberately and intentionally touch that place upon him that was unclean, for not only would it be unable to make Jesus unclean, but it was Jesus Himself who would and could make it completely and entirely clean. What’s more, is I would dare say that when Jesus touched this man and made him clean He made him cleaner than perhaps he ever was and had ever been before. I cannot help but think about the tremendous truth that when Jesus stretched forth His hand to touch the physical flesh of this man and spoke the word that would make him clean He not only made him clean, but also made him cleaner than he had ever been before—perhaps even before the leprosy had even come upon and laid hold of his physical body. Here again—we don’t know how long this man had this leprosy upon his physical flesh, or even how he would come to be a leper, however, what we do know is that Jesus was willing to touch this man’s flesh and speak the word which would ultimately make this man clean. With this being said we must needs understand that when Jesus makes you clean—whether by touching that area and part of you that was unclean, whether by speaking the word that makes you clean, or a combination of both—He makes you completely and entirely clean. When Jesus makes you clean from that which had previously made you unclean He makes you cleaner than you have ever been before—even cleaner than you were before the uncleanness would come upon or come within you.

            Following this line of thinking concerning Jesus’ interaction with that which was unclean you will find the Roman centurion coming unto Jesus and entreating Him on behalf of his servant who lie at home sick of the palsy and who was grievously tormented. What I so absolutely love about Jesus’ response to this centurion was that the words He spoke unto Him were such that would be absolutely tremendous when you take the time to think about it. As you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find Jesus emphatically and boldly declaring that He would come and heal the servant of this centurion. What we must needs recognize and understand concerning Jesus’ statement spoken unto this centurion—and not only Jesus’ words, but also that which Jesus was willing to do—is that for all intents and purposes this Roman centurion was by and large considered unclean being a Gentile and heathen. Although Rome was the dominant superpower of the world during that time and controlled most of the known world this Roman centurion would have been considered unclean. What adds even more credence and credibility to this line of thinking is when you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the tenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. It is there in the tenth chapter of the book of Acts you find the apostle Peter being led to the house of Cornelius who was also a Roman Centurion based on the word of the Lord and the work of the Spirit. You cannot read this chapter—and even the words which are found in the next—and not find this element of uncleanness, for when the apostle Peter had the vision of the sheet being let down from heaven with all manner of living creatures and being instructed to rise, kill and eat you will find him declaring unto the Lord how he had never defiled himself with that which was unclean. What the Lord spoke unto him was utterly and completely astounding, for the Lord would instruct and command him not to call unclean what He has called clean.

Oh we must needs realize and recognize just how incredibly important these words truly are, for they draw and call our attention to the absolutely wonderful and powerful truth that the underlying foundation of what we read in the tenth chapter is the command and instruction not to call unclean that which the Lord has called clean. Not only this, but upon reading the words found in this chapter you will find the apostle Peter going with the servants of this Roman centurion unto his house—and not only going with them unto his house, but also entering the house where this man and all his family and household were gathered together anxiously waiting for the word which the apostle Peter would speak unto them. It is absolutely imperative that we recognize and understand that which is found in this passage of Scripture, for what we find in this passage of Scripture is the apostle Peter entering into the house of one who would have been considered unclean according to the Jewish law and tradition. I am absolutely and completely convinced that the tenth and eleventh chapters of the book of Acts are incredibly necessary for us to read and consider—particularly and especially when considering the words which are found in the eighth chapter of the gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew—for within it you will find the underlying reality that the Roman centurion would have been considered unclean in the sight of the Jews. Even when you come to the eleventh chapter of the book of Acts—as you read of the elders of the church was in Jerusalem hearing of what had taken place in the house of Cornelius, and how the apostle Peter had gone into the house of a Gentile, and how the Holy Spirit had been manifested unto and among the Gentiles—you will find them initially skeptical, astonished and critical of the actions of the apostle Peter in actually going unto and entering into this man’s house. Oh this adds even more weight and significance to Jesus’ willingness to go with this Roman centurion unto his home that He might heal his servant who lie there sick of the palsy and grievously tormented. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how incredibly powerful this truly is when you take the time to think about and consider it, for Jesus expressed a willingness to walk with him who was unclean—and not only walk with him who was unclean, but also enter into that place which would have been considered unclean according to Jewish law and tradition.

What so amazes and captivates me when reading the words which are found within the eighth chapter of this gospel narrative is that not only was Jesus willing to touch that one who was unclean, and not only was Jesus willing to touch that which was unclean, but we also find Jesus willing to go with that one who was considered unclean, and even being willing to enter into that place which was considered unclean. Oh how absolutely awesome and powerful it is to read the words found within this passage of Scripture and think about and consider how Jesus who was the embodiment of being clean, and being pure, and being holy, would not only stretch forth His hand and touch both he who was unclean, but also that which was unclean, but would also be willing to walk with he who was considered to be unclean, and even enter into his house. Oh how truly remarkable and astonishing this is to read and consider, for it draws and calls our attention to Jesus being willing to make that which was unclean clean, as well as Jesus’ willingness to walk with those who were unclean that He might bring healing into unclean places. WHEN JESUS CLEANSES UNCLEAN PLACES WITHIN OUR LIVES! WHEN JESUS BRINGS HEALING INTO UNCLEAN PLACES! Oh stop for a moment and consider just how absolutely and incredibly powerful these statements truly are, for on the one hand we find Jesus being willing to bring cleansing into that unclean place within the physical flesh of this one who came and worshipped Him, while on the other hand we find Jesus’ willingness to bring healing into unclean places. Of course we know that the Roman centurion forbade Jesus from coming under his roof, for not only did he recognize that he was a man under authority who obeyed commands, but was also a man in authority who spoke and others obeyed his commands. This centurion realized and recognized that all Jesus needed to do was speak the word—that word of authority and power—and his servant would be healed. Ultimately Jesus would not travel or journey with this Roman centurion, nor would He enter into his house and come under his roof, but the word which He spoke which was mixed together with the faith of the centurion would result in his servant being healed in that very instance.

As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely captivating and riveting to read the words which are found and contained within it, for within this chapter we find Jesus cleansing a leper, we find Jesus healing the servant of a Roman centurion, we find Jesus curing Peter’s mother-in-law, we find Jesus healing all those who were brought unto him, driving out the demons and unclean spirits of those who came unto Him, rebuking the winds and the waves which came upon the sea where He and His disciples were, and casting out the devils which was in two men who had come out unto Him from the region of the Gergesenes. This chapter is chalk full of narrative after narrative and account after account of Jesus’ authority and power—and not only Jesus’ power over leprosy, but also His power over the palsy, His power over nature, His power over demons and devils, and His power over a common fever. Oh how absolutely marvelous this chapter truly is when you take the time to think about and consider the words found and contained within it, for within this chapter you will find a wonderful and powerful demonstration of the authority that is found in the person of Jesus Christ. In a gospel narrative that is filled with and surrounded by example after example of Jesus’ moving with the multitudes, and Jesus’ ministry among the multitudes you will find this personal element and aspect surrounding His public ministry as Jesus would not only bring healing, but also cleansing and deliverance where it was desperately needed. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of just how absolutely wonderful and incredible this truly is when you take the time to think about it, for the words which we find in the eighth chapter of this book bring us face to face with the awesome and powerful reality that Jesus has all authority to bring healing, to bring cleansing and to bring deliverance into those places where it is absolutely and desperately needed within the lives of those whom He encounters and/or those who come unto Him or are brought unto Him. Oh how wonderful and powerful it truly is to read the words which are found within this chapter and to encounter and come face to face with the wonderful truth surrounding this Jesus who has absolutely and total authority and power over nature, over unclean and foul spirits, over that which is unclean, over all manner of sickness and disease, and over absolutely everything that seeks to oppress and afflict us.

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