When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Matthew 9:36-38 ->me: These final verses to chapter 9 are the big lead in to Matthew 10 where Jesus discusses what will come as He sends His disciples out into the fields to harvest. The verse leading into Jesus’ statement about the ‘harvest being plentiful, but laborers few’ is referring to sheep without a shepherd who are ‘harassed and helpless’. Strong’s says that the Greek words used here are more like ‘distressed’ and ‘cast down’. And then for Jesus to add ‘like sheep without a shepherd’ add the rest of the sentiment. As a worker for the Chief Harvester, the sheep I am looking for are the one’s who are confused, dejected, lost, and without direction. When Jesus says ‘pray earnestly’ it can also mean ‘beg’. One thing that strikes me today is that this was said by Jesus over 2000 years ago, so if the earnestness was as high as it was for Jesus at that time, then how much more imperative is it that we heed this call today. I believe that time is short and there are so many souls to harvest for the Kingdom. Sure, I am doing my best glorify God by living an upright and pure life…but what can I look back on each day and see where I have heeded this call by Jesus? I am not doing nearly as much as I could do. One thing I have learned on my road to sanctification is – the closer I get to the Lord and the more I am obedient toward Him, the more I see that I am further away from where I need to be.
“As Jesus passed on from there [the house of the Ruler and daughter Jesus healed], two blind men followed Him, shouting loudly, Have pity and mercy on us, Son of David! When He reached the house and went in, the blind men came to Him, and Jesus said to them, Do you believe that I am able to do this? They said to Him, Yes, Lord. Then He touched their eyes, saying, According to your faith and trust and reliance be it done to you;” Matthew 9:27-29 ->me: The main thing that stood out to me this morning in this passage was that it appears that the blind men had been following Jesus for some time before He addressed them. They had shouted out at Him, likely the whole walk back to the house in Capernaum. In Matthew 15:23 there is a similar situation where it appears that Jesus did not react to the first cries of the person seeking His help and healing power. However, after persistence, in both occasions, Jesus tenderly addresses these troubled and desperate people. Just as with Saturday’s quiet time, faith is shown to be a practical and persistent confidence in the power of Jesus. There are people in my life right now who are suffering from illness or cancer and we are crying out together, following Jesus down the street, asking Him for His intervention. God’s purposes are perfect and His will is true to what is best for us. My first prayer for these dear loved ones is that God’s will is done, but that suffering is limited to only what is necessary for God’s plan to be executed. Jesus, please have mercy on these beloved loved ones. Hear my cries as I, and they, follow you; I have faith that you can heal all disease and cancers…most of all I am thankful for the ultimate healing you have already accomplished on the cross for our sin. Hear my petitions for mercy and healing today!
“And behold, a woman who had suffered from a flow of blood for twelve years came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His garment; For she kept saying to herself, If I only touch His garment, I shall be restored to health. Jesus turned around and, seeing her, He said, Take courage, daughter! Your faith has made you well. And at once the woman was restored to health.” Matthew 9:20-22 ->me: There are a couple of questions that stand out to me in today’s full quiet time passage (Matthew 9:18-26). I asked myself these 2 things: “What does it mean to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment today? What can I take away in application from this passage?”. 1) The woman had faith that should would be healed if she just touched Jesus’ cloak. 2) She was not deterred by many years of unsuccessful help in earthly healing or the throngs of people in her way. 3) She followed through by going all the way to physically touching his garment. Learning -> Faith and Intent are not enough for God’s hand in my life, He wants to see me follow-through. God did not intervene until Abraham was starting his downward thrust of the knife into Issac. The Lord is ready and willing, even when He is not looking (Jesus didn’t see her touch the hem of His cloak, but He did know that healing power had left Him) to miraculously act in my life but I must follow through; even when the act of faith is scary, embarrassing, or hard. Thank goodness I have the Holy Spirit to tell me what those actions are but I must be the one who does the work and completes the task He has shown me. I have several of these situations in my life right now! Thank you God for this encouragement to take my faith and intent forward into action; may the glory be entirely yours as I see your work in my life and in others as I apply this learning today.
“Then the disciples of John [the Baptist…who is currently in jail] came to Jesus, inquiring, Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, [that is, abstain from food and drink as a religious exercise], but Your disciples do not fast? And Jesus replied to them, Can the wedding guests mourn while the bridegroom is still with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” Matthew 9:14-15 ->me: I have spent considerable time on this passage today and have even spent time in the prayer closet asking the Lord to give me wisdom and understanding through His Holy Spirit to take away application. What Jesus is saying here is that Fasting is an act of mourning; the disciples of Jesus need not mourn because Jesus is right there with them. Additionally, Jesus is bringing a new economy of relationship with Himself. It is no longer necessary to perform the ceremonial acts of fasting for atonement or anything like that as the new life in Christ will come upon His death and resurrection. What I am led to believe, through reading other passages like Acts 13:2-3, is that fasting is now an act of mourning/distress OR can be used to acknowledge our weakness before our Almighty King to petition the Holy Spirit for His wisdom and guidance in the face of a big decision (like the elders in Acts 13). Jesus went on to say in verse 16 that trying to attach a new piece of unshrunken cloth to a tattered and worn garment will only cause the tear you are trying to mend, to only get worse…meaning don’t try to intermix the new relationship through Jesus with the Jewish traditions and rituals of the Mosaic/Levitical Law. Just make a new full garment out of the new cloth God provides us through His Son Jesus…so, I carry on in my desire to glorify and reflect Christ and in so doing, I receive the sanctification God gives as a new garment to enter heaven with.
“And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, Why does your Master eat with tax collectors and those [who are] sinful? But when Jesus heard it, He replied, Those who are strong and well have no need of a physician, but those who are weak and sick. Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice and sacrificial victims. For I came not to call and invite the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:11-13 ->me: I have heard this passage several times in my life but today the Holy Spirit is working this into my heart; reinforcing my theology as a follower of Jesus. Jesus is quoting Hosea -> “For I desire and delight in dutiful steadfast love and goodness, not sacrifice, and the knowledge of and acquaintance with God more than burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6 The danger Hosea is calling out here is the risk that religion, which is all external, can be a place where ritual demands have taken the place of love. Jesus then reverses the standards of formal religion and invites only the disqualified. In the sense of the Pharisees, they believed they were righteous but it is precisely the adequacy of righteousness that Jesus constantly calls into question. Sinners who ‘hunger and thirst for righteousness’ are closer to true righteousness than the self-satisfied.
“And he (the now healed paralytic) got up and went away to his own house. When the crowds saw it, they were struck with fear and awe; and they recognized God and praised and thanked Him, Who had given such power and authority to men.” Matthew 9:7-8 ->me: This is the awesome story of the healing of the paralytic. In Mark we learn that he was lowered down through the roof of the house but here, Matthew chooses to focus on the dialog between Jesus and the Scribes. Jesus had healed this man by saying “your sins are forgiven” and so the Scribes were calling foul, because to assume the authority of God for yourself to forgive sins is blasphemy. Verse 8, for me, has a couple of things that spoke to me this morning. 1) Crowds [many people] saw this. All through the New Testament, we are told that the masses saw the works (Miraculous) of Jesus. Notice that in all the books written that date back to this time, none refute the things that he did. 2) The works of Jesus point to His Father in heaven. “And they recognized God and praised and thanked Him” – They saw Jesus do these works but the praise and acknowledgement of God are what are paramount. 3) Jesus forgives the sin the of the paralytic before He actually pays for those sins with His life on the cross. The concept of forbearance is something that really helped me see that God’s redemptive plan for the world had existed from the beginning. If Jesus could forgive the sin of a man before His death on the cross to pay for those sins then I can fully trust that my sin is forgiven (sin that would not happen until long after His death and resurrection). I am so thankful for the teaching given to us in God’s word and the Holy Spirit He has given to help lead us through it.
“Jesus said, Come! So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water, and he came toward Jesus. But when he perceived and felt the strong wind, he was frightened, and as he began to sink, he cried out, Lord, save me! Instantly Jesus reached out His hand and caught and held him, saying to him, O you of little faith, why did you doubt? And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.” Matthew 14:29-32 ->me: Yesterday while I was in Sunday morning worship, my mind began to wonder; thinking about all that needed to get done before today [Monday] after being in North Carolina on business for the last week. Then I realized where I was and what my focus should be -> on God and Jesus alone for what He has done and Who He is in my life today. My mind came to this passage about Peter and desire to come out on the water to be with Jesus, by asking Jesus to command him to come out…so Jesus did just that. Peter climbs out of the boat with his eyes fixed on Jesus and begins to walk on the water towards Him…but then what happens? Peter gets distracted and fearful about the craziness around him. When he realizes that he is sinking, he freaks out and calls on Jesus to rescue him. As the passage says, Jesus INSTANTLY reaches out, catches, and holds Peter. There are a lot of takeaways from this passage but for me, this is my walk with Jesus. I searched for Him and He called me to Himself. I started out walking on the water of my ‘following’ Him but I routinely get distracted by my work, pressures, money, and many other things in this world…finding myself losing sight of the One Who stand on top of it all. When I refocus back on Him and call out to Him in confession and repentance, He immediately reminds me Who He is and holds me close. Everyday my goal to walk further before sinking by keeping every moment transfixed on Him.
“The herdsmen fled and went into the town and reported everything, including what had happened to the men under the power of demons. And behold, the whole town went out to meet Jesus; and as soon as they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their locality.” Matthew 8:33&34 ->me: This recollection and writing by Matthew about the demoniacs, Jesus’ interchange with them, and the casting them into the pigs that ran down into the water and drowned is an amazing example of Jesus power over the supernatural. As soon as Jesus came up on these possessed men, the demons inside of them called out to Jesus by name, acknowledging Him as the Son of God. But a big part of the story is the town’s people who came out to see what the herdsmen had told them about this Jesus. Notice the wording – The herdsmen fled -> they were scared about what they saw and mostly notably because they had just lost a whole herd of pigs to this Man’s actions. They ‘reported everything…including what had happened to the men under the power of the demons…”. I read this to be that the big new was “Jesus killed our expensive herd of pigs…oh and He also remove the power of demons over these men…”. The towns people rejected Jesus because they preferred their pigs!! What is sad is that I find myself doing this… I can think of many occasions where God has done something amazing but I find the wrong thing to put value in…I miss the bigger news.
“And they went and awakened Him, saying, Lord, rescue and preserve us! We are perishing! And He said to them, Why are you timid and afraid, O you of little faith? Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great and wonderful calm (a perfect peaceableness).” Matthew 8:25&26 ->me: This awesome story is a wonderful/sorry view of my life with Jesus. The passage says that the waves were crashing over the boat…I don’t know about you but my guess is that the boat was actually breaking. You have these men on deck trying to do everything THEY COULD to navigate the treacherous waters all the while the Son of the Living God was asleep in the body of the ship. Ok, lets break away for a second. If I say that the boat is my body, the raging sea is this world, and the men on the boat are the thoughts and emotions in my mind, then this is perfect picture of my life with Him. He is IN me and even if He was asleep…the SON OF GOD is IN me! What do I have to fear?? Even more importantly, I am IN HIM! Even more important than that is that He is not asleep when I am dedicated in my obedience to Him. He is active and working within me…so I not only have nothing to be afraid of, I can lean into my Savior who is at work in my heart transforming me within to be MORE LIKE HIM! Shut the front door!!!
“And a scribe came up and said to Him, Master, I will accompany You wherever You go. And Jesus replied to him, Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have lodging places, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head. Another of the disciples said to Him, Lord, let me first go and bury [care for till death] my father, but Jesus said to him, Follow Me, and leave the dead [in sin] to bury their own dead.” Matthew 8:19-22 ->me: Today’s reading is all on the costs of ‘Following’ Jesus. These 2 people (one a scribe) are described as disciples of Jesus. Scribes, as a sect, were against Jesus, but individually they were open and sometimes receptive to His teaching. What this means is that you can be a disciple but not a ‘follower’ of Jesus. Jesus makes it very clear, that to follow Him means to put Him above everything else on this earth, even family. Which is why it is so important that prioritize my time with Jesus in prayer and in His word over other distractions in life (Family, work, fun, and even church for that matter). My take away today is that I need to ask myself these questions each morning I wake up – “Who am I living for today? [Answer: Jesus] Am I going to make decisions today that are indicative of Following my Savior? [Answer: Yep, with God’s strength, every single one.]” I have said this before, but it is amazing how God still makes time for everything to get done, when I give Him my time – even when it doesn’t seem like there is any time to give.