- Sermon Notes
The Authority of Jesus
In Matthew chapter 8, we find Jesus in the area at the northern end of the Sea of Galilee behind the town of Capernaum coming down from the mountain from which he had just given the great Sermon on the Mount. God was speaking to the people of Israel in that great sermon speaking to them about the transformation that God desires and that the heart of those who would enter into the kingdom of heaven would be transformed in the inner man.
Then, after Jesus finished that sermon, as he was coming down from the mountain, he was met by a leper who came to Him and said, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." Jesus simply stretched out his hand and touched him and said, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
The events that unfold next in the ministry of Jesus demonstrate His power and authority. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever would believe in him would not perish but have everlasting life. He spoke as one having authority when He taught them the words of life. He spoke of the transformation that God desired in their lives, and God then demonstrated this was His Son by the power and authority that was revealed through these events.
There are great personal lessons for each one of us as well. “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved,” the scripture says. Believe that he died on the cross as payment for our sins, believe that He has the words of life that transform the heart, and believe because you see the demonstration of God's power and authority in him.
I. He has the Authority to Make Us Clean
- These few verses contain an amazing event that has sparked much debate over the years.
- But Jesus himself explains the purpose of what is happening here and it is important for us to receive it as well.
- The key to these verses is found in verse 4 when he said to the man he healed, “Present the offering that Moses commanded for a testimony to them.”
A. Increase in faith by this testimony
- There are several things that are important for us to see in order to gain insight from these verses.
- First, leprosy was an incurable disease. If you remember our study in Leviticus, leprosy was also a picture of sin. When a leper came close to people he was to call out, “Unclean, unclean.”
- It's also important to understand that God gave Israel a provision in the Law so that if a leper was healed he was to bring an offering before God. This provision in the law had never been used in the history of Israel.
Leviticus 14:1-7, The law of the leper in the day of his cleansing.
- After healing the leper of his leprosy he instructed him to present that offering that Moses commanded “for a testimony to them.”
- You can imagine what an uproar it would've made when this man appeared before the priests at the Temple.
- It was a testimony so that they would know that the Messiah had come. It is a testimony for us as well so that we would know that Jesus is the Son of God so that we might place our faith in him.
Luke 4:24-30 God’s purpose in healing as a testimony
- Unfortunately, some have made the words, “Lord, if you are willing…” the central focus of this healing event. Jesus answered, “I am willing,” so they conclude that it is God's will that all should be healed here on the earth.
- But what they don't see is that God's purpose, explained in verse 4, was to build a testimony that the Son of God, the promised Messiah had come.
- Does God heal today? Answer; absolutely. Does God always heal? Answer; no.
Illus - Some have suggested that since God is always willing, then if a man is not healed then it is his own fault because he lacked faith.
- Paul himself asked for healing from God, but God had a purpose in allowing him to remain unhealed.
2 Corinthians 12:7, 9, … For this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh… And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
2 Timothy 4:20, Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus.
- Leprosy is a picture of sin and so Jesus said to the man, “Be cleansed.” That is the greatest need that man has, far greater than our need for physical healing, for this body of ours will one day return to the dust from which it was made.
- When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, everything under their authority was affected by their sin. Even the earth itself was afflicted to corruption by that sin.
Romans 8:18-23 Creation itself will be set free.
B. We need to be under His authority
- The next story is equally amazing. A Roman centurion came to Him because his servant was at home suffering great pain.
- Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.”
- The centurion’s answer demonstrated amazing understanding not only of who Jesus was but also the reason Jesus had such great authority.
- “I am not worthy for You to come under my roof; just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I, too, am a man under authority.”
- Authority is absolutely important because it determines what happens. “I say to my servant, ‘Go,’ and he goes,” the centurion said.
Illus – Governor Herter from Massachusetts and the lady in charge of the chicken.
- Jesus then said that this was great faith, such faith that He had not found with anyone in Israel.
- The key then is for us also to be under authority. But to truly be under authority is to do so with a willing heart.
- If a person is only halfheartedly cooperating, we call that “passive rebellion.” God wants us to be under authority with all our heart.
Isaiah 29:13, Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote…”
Illus - I mentioned a few Wednesdays ago about when one of our youth groups went to serve at the orphanage in Mexico and they at first didn't like some of their tasks, but their leaders helped them learn to respond, “I would love to,” as their hearts were being changed.
II. He has Authority in the Storms of Life
- Beginning in verse 23 and following comes one of the most famous stories that speaks to the authority of Christ.
- Jesus and the disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee, Jesus fell asleep and there arose a great storm in the sea so that they feared for their lives.
- Here, the disciples themselves were given a lesson in the authority and power of Christ.
A. God has a purpose in the storms of life
- Many people have a very simple view of the things that happen in their lives. If anything bad happens, then they must have done something wrong to deserve it.
- If anything good happens, they must've done something right. But the scripture helps us understand that God has greater purpose in the storms that we face.
- Certainly storms can be terrible and frightening in their devastation. We even named storms so we can distinguish one terrible event from another.
Illus – Some names of hurricanes just don't seem appropriate. There's hurricane Fiona, and Richard. Some are perfect; there's hurricane Igor, that one works for sure.
- There is certainly something about being in a storm at sea that's particularly frightening.
Illus - I look at these men on America's Deadliest Catch and I get scared just watching them.
- Jesus was asleep and for many that may seem to be a picture of God; that he doesn't seem to notice what we’re going through.
Psalm 121:3-4, He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
- But God has a purpose in the storms of life; this he makes clear in many places in scripture.
- There are correcting storms. One of the best examples of that would be the prophet Jonah who was running from God's purpose and direction in his life. Of course, sometimes we bring storms on ourselves. Either Way, God uses them to get us to correct our course.
Hebrews 12:5-6, 11 “My son, do not regard lately the discipline of the Lord… For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines.” … All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
- There are protecting storms. Paul himself would be one of the best examples of this. We quoted earlier from 2 Corinthians 12 where Paul said, “to keep me from exalting myself…”
- Then there are perfecting storms. Matthew 8 gives us a perfect example because here the Lord is allowing them to go through a storm in order to increase their faith and to see His great power and authority.
James 1:2-3, Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
- Storms will come in every one's life. And God wants us to learn to walk by faith and not by our feelings.
- We don't decide when storms begin and we don't decide when they end.
- But we can decide how are going to react to them. The question is this; am I going to trust God and walk by faith in the midst of the storm? Clearly this is what God wants us to do.
Hebrews 10:38, But my righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.
Hebrews 11:1-2, 6, Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval… And without faith it is impossible to please Him.
- But he also promises to be with us in the storm and that is our hope.
Isaiah 43:1-3, “…Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God, the holy one of Israel, your Savior;”
Psalm 23:4, Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me;
- I find much more hope in that than anything that the world has to offer. What encouragement does the world give? “When life gives you lemons… make lemonade.” “When the going gets tough… the tough get going.” “Don't worry; be happy.” Now doesn't that encourage you?
- I prefer the hope that God gives.
Romans 8:28, We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.
Matthew 8:1-27 NASB
1 When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. 2 And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." 3 Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 And Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."