- Sermon Notes
As we continue our study through the gospel of Matthew, we also continue with the theme of the authority of Jesus. Again, it's good for us to start with the big picture. God so loved the world that He sent his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
The key phrase in that verse is, “whoever believes in Him.” In other words, God sent his Son as His provision for reconciliation, for forgiveness of sin, for right relationship to God, but we must believe in Him for us to have eternal life.
God then demonstrates His love for us by giving us reason to believe in His only begotten Son. The authority of God was on Jesus when he gave the famous Sermon on the Mount in which He spoke of the heart that is transformed before God. The authority of God was demonstrated in Jesus when he cleansed the leper. Jesus demonstrated the authority of God over the natural realm when he called the winds and the sea when the disciples were about to perish in the storm. He demonstrated the authority of God in Him over the spiritual realm when he commanded a legion of demons to come out of the man in the area of the Gadarenes.
Now, when we come to chapter 9, we not only see the authority of God continuing to be seen in the Son of Man, we also see the right response to God's Son. And then we see the results in our lives as well. This is summarized for us beautifully in the gospel of John.
But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name. -- John 20:31.
I. Jesus has Authority to Forgive Sins
- The scene that unfolds in Matthew 9 is one of a paralytic, lying on a bed, who has four friends that have the faith to believe that if they could just bring their friend to Jesus, He would heal the paralyzed friend.
- From the account in Luke 5, we understand that they could not bring their friend in through the front door because of the great crowd, so they brought him up to the roof, made an opening through the tiles and lowered him down by ropes in front of Jesus.
- Jesus then says three things to this man that amazes everyone in the house. And it's here that we also received great insight into what God is doing for us through Jesus as well.
A. “Take courage, my son”
- It's interesting because Jesus begins by addressing the man himself to calm his troubled soul and to strengthen his heart.
- When Jesus said, “Take courage, my son” He said two significant things. “My son” speaks of how much he cares for him and loves him. It's how a father would speak to his child who had fallen and was hurting.
- “Take courage” It’s not the trite words of someone who would say, “Cheerio, chin up old fellow, it could be worse.” But rather, it's a word which means, “There’s nothing to be afraid of, let your heart be encouraged.”
- There are several examples in scripture.
John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.
Mark 6:50, for they all saw Him and were terrified. But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, “Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid.”
B. “Your sins are forgiven”
- It’s interesting that He then said to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven.” They had brought him to Jesus for the healing of his paralysis, but Jesus addressed his greater need first.
- The central theme of Christianity is the forgiveness of sin. God sent His Son that we might have everlasting life, but our sin has separated us from God. Therefore, Jesus is addressing our greatest need.
Isaiah 59:1-2, Behold, the Lord's hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God…
- I don't think we should conclude that this man was a paralytic because of his particular sin. What becomes clear in scripture is that all sickness, diseases, cancers, etc. are a result of the sin that began all the way back at the Garden with Adam and Eve’s original sin.
- Yet, no doubt, this man had been carrying a great burden all his life that he must've done something, or perhaps his parents had done something to cause this great tragedy. No doubt there were many who would wag the tongue against him with the same accusation. So Jesus begins by releasing him of this great burden.
- Everything God created was good, the scripture says. Then, after the sin of Adam, the consequences fell upon everything under Adam’s authority; even the earth itself has been subject to the corruption of sin.
- So the forgiveness of sin is absolutely essential in being reconciled to God, and that is why God sent His Son.
2 Corinthians 5:19, God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
- But here, in Matthew 9, God was also demonstrating that the Son of Man had authority on earth to forgive sins, therefore he said to the paralytic, “Rise, take up your bed, and go home.”
- The account in Luke 5 gives us great insight.
Luke 5:21, The scribes and Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?”
- They were correct that only God can forgive sins, which gives further evidence that Jesus is the Son of God.
C. May we be friends like these
- We can't leave this story without saying something about these four friends.
- First, that it was their faith that caused them to bring this paralytic to Jesus. They were convinced that if they could just get this man before the Lord; he would receive what he needed.
- I think it's important for us to clear up a misunderstanding when it comes to this verse. Many people imagine a scene where these four friends are tearing up the roof of some poor chap's house, perhaps with the mindset, “It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission.” No, these tiles were easily removed and thus easily replaced.
- We should see the extent that they went to in order to get their paralyzed friend to the Lord.
- The point here is that we should be friends like these as well.
II. Believe and then Follow
- The next section in the gospel of Matthew is about Matthew himself and how he first came to Christ.
- This is so helpful for us because it follows so perfectly out of everything that has happened so far in Jesus's ministry.
- God has been demonstrating the authority of Jesus so that we may believe and in believing we will have life. How does this happen?
- First, by the forgiveness of sin we can have relationship to God through his Son Jesus. But then, we need to follow. We need to walk as Jesus walked. That's what it means to follow.
A. Begin by leaving the old ways behind
- The amazing part of this story is that Jesus called a man who was a tax collector. This is as radical and amazing as Jesus touching and healing a leper.
- Tax collectors were hated by Jews because they were thought of as traitors. By this time the Roman Empire had become so successful that no Roman citizen was taxed and Italy itself was exempt. The Roman tax system was such that they would auction off the rights to tax certain areas for a given period of time. It was then up to the one who purchased those rights to exact whatever taxes he desired. There was much corruption although there were some who were honest.
Luke 3:12, And some tax collectors also came to be baptized [by John], and they said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than what you have been ordered to.”
- When Jesus saw him sitting in the tax office he said to him, “Follow Me!” And then in the book of Luke we get more detail.
Luke 5:28, And he left everything behind, then got up and began to follow Him.
- Matthew gave up a very lucrative position, but what he must've seen was that it was in actuality worthless.
- A famous missionary, John Elliott, once said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Philippians 3:7-8, Whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be lost in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ.
- Leaving everything behind is so important because you can't walk as Jesus walked and still walk in the course of this world like we used to.
Ephesians 2:1-2, And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world…
Illus - Some walk according to the course of this world, fall into a ditch and want help getting out. But Jesus doesn't just lift us up out of the muddy ditch so that we can keep walking the way we used to walk, but that so we would follow after Him.
- What happened next was that Matthew invited his sinner friends to come and dine with Jesus.
- First of all, I love that part of the story. Sometimes the best evangelists are those who just came to faith in Jesus Christ because in their excitement and zeal for the Lord they want to invite their sinner friends to meet Jesus as well.
- But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with tax collectors and sinners?”
- Jesus's answer was filled with insight, “It is not those who are healthy (self-righteous) who need a physician, but those who are sick.
- In other words, we need to recognize our condition. Before we can be forgiven, we need to recognize that we need forgiveness.
- “I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,” Jesus said, quoting several Old Testament scriptures that the Pharisees should have been familiar with. “Go and learn what this means,” was a Jewish expression the Pharisees were commonly using when they wanted to correct someone unlearned in the scriptures. It would have been a sharp rebuke to them.
- They were focused on outward religion; but Jesus was healing sinners with God's heart of compassion.
- In verses 16-17, Jesus explains that the new wine of the new covenant would be put into new wine skins. In other words, he was rejecting those who had taught of the external form of religion and giving it to those with a new heart.
2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
- Matthew’s name was first called Levi, the name of Israel’s son who was given to be priests.
Illus - You can imagine his parents giving him that name in the hope that he would one day become a priest and serve God. But instead, he became a tax collector, that is, until he met Jesus, someone worth following.
Matthew 9:1-17 NASB