When you finish this session, you should be able to:
- Comprehend and respond to the works of Jesus
- Understand the compassion of Jesus for the harassed
- Know the model of preparation for ministry
- Realize that conflict will be the course of life for those working the works of God in this present evil age
- Make a decision to proclaim in public what you have received in private
In Book Two of Matthew’s Gospel, we will look at the narrative section to define the healing ministry and the responses to which he called his disciples. Then, we will look at the compassion of Jesus for the lost and how he prepares his disciples to work in his harvest field. Next, we will observe how conflict is the course of life for believers doing the works of Jesus. Finally, we will note the exhortation of Jesus to his disciples.
| Overview |
In the narrative section of Book Two, Matthew writes about Jesus showing his disciples the works of the kingdom, i.e., what they must do when they choose to follow him. It has been noted by Second Testament specialist that Matthew 8-9 has (9) miracle stories arranged in three (3) sets of three (3). At the end of each section of miracles, there is a short call for a response. After each set of three (3) miracle stories, there is a second of teaching on discipleship or mission.
In the instruction section, Jesus tells his disciples to do the same things he had just shown them in the narrative section. He told them what they needed to know about doing the works of the Father. It seems that “show and tell” was a preferred method of Jesus even though it is not labeled with those words by Matthew.
Narrative: The Works of the Kingdom Matthew 8.1-9.38
- The man with leprosy: Matt. 8.1-4
Those with leprosy in the ancient world were not to be touched. Yet, Jesus reaches out and touches this man. His touch makes the unclean man clean. By doing so he was breaking the Law in Israel.
- The centurion’s servant: Matt. 8.5-13
The centurion was a Gentile. The mindset in Judaism during this timeframe was that Gentiles were earmarked as “a candidate for assassination and not for assistance.”[ref]William Barclay. Matthew. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/matthew-8.html. accessed: September 22, 2018. [/ref] In today’s society, we are servants to “identity” politics. Television newscasts, newspapers, internet blogs bombard us with this point of view on a daily basis. Part of being a follower of Jesus means to eradicate this point of view from our life and language.
- Peter’s mother-in-law and various miracles: Matt. 8.14-17
In this episode, Jesus had entered Peter’s house and discovered that his mother-in-law was sick in bed with a fever. Matthew records that Jesus “touched her hand and the fever left her” (Matt. 8.14). The language suggests that it was an instant healing rather than a gradual one. Her response, “she got up and began to wait on him (Matt. 8.15). Her testimony was shown in “service” to others. This might surely forge the question in our own minds “What do we do when we receive healing from Jesus?” Of course, that would only happen if we actually believed that Jesus still heals. When evening arrived the town had heard what had happened at Peter’s house and they brought “many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick (Matt. 8.16).
- The Call for a Response: The Cost of Following Jesus Matt. 8.18-22
In the interaction of Jesus with others after this healing, he suggests that there is a cost to following him. When a scribe told Jesus that he would follow Jesus wherever he went, Jesus marked out the cost for him in a cryptic saying, i.e., your personal life will be affected: you may have to give up your present lifestyle of authority because you have a skill set that makes you valuable. It was as if Jesus were saying “are you really willing to give up your secured lifestyle and become a “novice” again after having achieved your present success? Lastly, Jesus answered another disciple who wanted to first bury his father with what sounds like a cryptic response: “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” This saying most likely was a response to the practice of the year-long burial procedure of ossilegium, or secondary burial, which would remove would have removed him from following Jesus for up to a year. The purpose of these two sayings was to assure the two potential Jesus followers of the cost associated with following him.
| Group #2
- Jesus calms the storm: 8.23-27
The story of the calming of the sea is often used to posit the ability of Jesus to bring about inward harmony for a person. Folks are sometimes told during hardships, “When the winds and waves of life try to sink your boat, remember Jesus is there to speak, “peace, be still.” Surely it is true that Jesus can and does speak peace into our lives during difficult times, but this is not the meaning of this passage in Matthew. What Matthew seeks to demonstrate is that Jesus was in conflict with Satan, the disrupter of nature. When Jesus and his disciples were in the boat, Satan was attempting to demonstrate his dominion. The ever learning disciples fearing for their lives cry out in fear, “Master, we are perishing!”Jesus woke up and rebuked the winds. The word for rebuke here is the same word that Mark used in his telling of the story of the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law. Jesus told the sea to “be quiet.” Jesus simply scolds the sea in the same way that he spoke to the fever. One can surely reason that when Jesus uses the same words in dealing with demons and sickness that he used in calming the sea, he saw the same originator, Satan.
- The two demonized men: 8.28-34
Demon possession or to be demonized was a common thought in the Second Testament. As Barclay says, “The air was so full of these spirits that it was not even possible to insert into it the point of a needle without coming against one [ref]Barclay, Gospel of Matthew. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/matthew-8.html [/ref].” For the most part, demons were connected to the Genesis 6.1-8 story in which angels who had sinned came to earth and seduced human women. The demons were believed to be the descendants of the children birthed by that evil union. To these demons, every illness known to ancient humankind was ascribed. As to the origin of the demons, different views were held. Some held that they had been there since the beginning of the world. Some held that they were the spirits of wicked, malignant people, who had died, and who even after their death still carried on their evil work. Most commonly of all they were connected with the strange old story in Genesis 6:1-8. That story tells how the sinning angels came to earth and seduced mortal women. The demons were held to be the descendants of the children produced by that evil union. For the ancient, they were responsible for diseases like epilepsy as well as physical illnesses. While those living in a postmodern society have a difficult time even believing in such stuff, it is the background of much of the Gospels. The writers shared this worldview. This story of Matthew 8.28-34 took place approximately five miles across the Sea of Galilee from where they began their journey. When they landed, it was in a cemetery. In Matthew’s account, there are two men who had demonstrated great strength as noted by the account that they had been bound with many chains but had somehow broken free. What’s creepy for the modern person to grasp is that Jesus and his disciples landed on the shores of a cemetery in the middle of the night and ran straightway into two madmen who were shouting and shrieking. When Jesus commanded and kept on commanding the demon to leave the two men, the demon named Legion relented and swarmed into a group of pigs who ran over a cliff and drowned in the waters below.
- Jesus heals a paralytic: 9.1-8
In this story, Jesus is accused of blasphemy as he cures a paralytic by forgiving his sins. He was accused of taking the place of God and doing what only God can do. That didn’t sit well with those who witnessed the miracle. When Jesus returned to Capernaum, the folks in town heard of his returned and crowded around the house where Jesus was staying and preaching about the kingdom of God. During the time Jesus was speaking, four men who had brought their friend who was paralyzed to see Jesus. Because of the crowd who had gathered around the house, they could not get through with their friend. So, they ascended to the roof and tore it open in order to lower their friend in the room where Jesus was teaching. The crown was not ready to hear the unexpected words of Jesus when Jesus spoke to the paralytic. He simply told the man that his sins were forgiven. Immediately the religious types who were listening to Jesus said that he was blaspheming. It seems that healing the paralytic was not an issue. What was an issue was the words Jesus chose to speak. What he did seemed to be okay, but what he said was not okay. Yes, you read that correctly, it was the words that he chose to say that raised their ire. It was not the religiously correct language! All these years later and not much has really changed. Do the right thing but with the wrong words and the do-gooders of the world with come rushing in with accusations of blasphemy! Heal the man, okay! But the words “forgive you of your sins, not okay. Go figure!
- The Call for a Response: The Call of Matthew and Questions about Fasting 9.9-17
Matthew shares his call to be a follower of Jesus. Tax collectors were the rue of the Israel landscape. They were thought of turncoats because they worked for the Roman invaders and often charged more tax than the Romans taxed them and pocketed the rest for themselves. Nothing new here, everyone dislikes tax collectors. Matthew lost and gained in this exchange with Jesus. As Barclay wrote,
We must note what Matthew left and what Matthew took. He left his tax collector’s table, but from it took one thing—his pen. Here is a shining example of how Jesus can use whatever gift a man may bring to him. It is not likely that the others of the Twelve were handy with a pen. Galilean fishermen would not have much skill in writing or in putting words together. But Matthew had; and this man, whose trade had taught him to use a pen, used that skill to compose the first handbook of the teaching of Jesus, which must rank as one of the most important books the world has ever read.[ref]Barclay, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dsb/matthew-9.html, accessed September 22, 2018.[/ref]
| Group #3
- Jairus’ daughter: 9.18-26
First, Jairus, the ruler of the local synagogue, had an urgent need. He told Jesus: my daughter is dying. As the local head of the synagogue, he put his own pride aside and confessed to Jesus that he had a need. He did this in public. Second, his request was interrupted by another need that arose that took away valuable time from his own crisis (see below). Third, when this interruption occurred, his friends told him that there is no use to continue to bother Jesus because it was too late to save his daughter. Fourth, Jesus spoke to the fear Jairus had. Fifth, Jesus needed the right atmosphere to perform the miracle. He only took three of his disciples with him. Sixth, he took control of the situation. The professional mourners were spinning their charm. They laughed at the words of Jesus, which he ignored. Seventh, Jesus spoke and touched Jairus’ daughter and grasp her from the jaws of death. Jairus and his family were affected for the rest of their lives. Wouldn’t you and your church community be?
- Woman with hemorrhage: 9.20-22
On his way to Jarius’ house, a lady called out to Jesus to help her with her twelve-year-old ailment. This lady had suffered a hemorrhaging condition for twelve years. Can you remember what you were doing twelve years ago? The text is clear, doctors were unable to help her, she had spent all her money for their care, but her condition only grew worse.[ref]“Encyclopedia Judaica: Medicine,” Jewish Virtual Library. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0013_0_13493.html (accessed July 7, 2016). A physician had to receive adequate fees, and free medical service was not approved because “a physician who takes nothing is worth nothing” (BK 85a). At the same time, Jewish physicians had special consideration for the poor and needy – a tradition that was maintained throughout the centuries. Abba Umana (fourth century C.E.) was reputed as a physician and a charitable man. In order not to discourage needy patients he would hang a box on the wall where anyone could put in, unnoticed, the fee he thought he could afford for medical treatment. Abba Umana refused to take fees from poor students and would return them their money so that they could use it for convalescence.[/ref]In the hustle and bustle of the crowd, she clipped up behind Jesus as he walked along with a single thought driving her, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” She was not certain what the outcome would be, but she had to try. When she accomplished her goal, she was healed. Jesus wanted to know, “who touched my clothes? His disciples thought the question was a bit odd because of all the folks walking with Jesus. When she identified herself. Jesus told her her faith had healed her and she could go in peace and be freed from her suffering.
- The blind and dumb: 9.27-34
There are no parallels to this story in any of the other two Synoptic Gospels. Some believe that they are identical with a similar story told by Mark and Luke (Mark 10.46-52 and Luke 18.35-43). When you look at these three accounts, another difference appears: was Jesus entering Jericho or leaving Jericho? This last seemingly contradiction can be eradicated by the fact that there were two cities named Jericho which were next to each other. It is possible that Jesus was leaving one when the healing occurred and on his way to entering the other. All the quarreling about these issues misses the point: Jesus healed two blind men and two mute men. It is apparent that Matthew is showing that Jesus can heal anything: here blindness and muteness. It should be noted that the mute person was demonized. This is not something that is considered in today’s highly scientific environment. The Pharisee’s worldview included this idea (Matt. 9.34).
- The Call for a Response: Help Wanted Matthew 9.35-38
There are three things which we see Jesus doing in this passage:
- He taught, proclaimed the good news of the kingdom, and healed, i.e., demonstrated the presence of the kingdom;
- He saw and had compassion for the harassed and helpless sheep; and
- The last sentences of this section suggest that there is always a need for more workers in God’s universe who look for places to be workers in the kingdom of God. Jesus commanded his disciples to pray for workers. The answer to the prayer of the disciples was the disciples themselves. They would be sent into the harvest. As a matter of fact, Jesus told his followers that they should “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Instruction: The Words of Jesus Matthew 10.1-11.1
The Call and Command of the Twelve: Matt. 10.1-4
Jesus commanded them to pray for workers to be sent into the harvest field. The disciples were to be the answer to their own prayer. They were called, commissioned, and then sent out. Their call had two elements.
First, they were called to him (Matt. 10.1). The first task is not to do, but to be in a relationship with Jesus, i.e., to have intimacy with him. Second, they were called to authority (Matt. 10.1). After intimacy comes enablement.
The Coach Instructs and Sends Out His Team:
| Instructions for Preparation: Matthew 10.5-9
The instructions to the disciples consisted of four parts:
- They were told where to go, i.e., what geographic area (Matt. 10.5-6).
- They were told what to preach, i.e., that the kingdom is near. They were to preach the words of the kingdom. The message is consistent. It was the same message that John the Baptist preached (Matt. 3.2) and the same message which Jesus preached (Matt. 4.17).
- They were told what to do, i.e., the works of the kingdom. These acts of power were and are signs, attesting the reality of the kingdom which had arrived in the ministry of Jesus and was now passed on to his
- They were told how to travel. They were to take no money, no food, and no signs of affluence. They were encouraged to trust God for their necessities (cf. Matt. 33).
| Instructions for Arrival: Matthew 10.11-15
They were to find a place to stay (Matt. 11.11), which was worthy. This meant that they were to find those who would receive the message of the kingdom, both its words and works. They were to minister in that place (Matt. 10.12-13). Peace was the blessing of the kingdom, i.e., the words and works of Jesus. They were to tell them of their judgment for rejection of the message of the kingdom (Matt. 10.14). The Eastern gesture of shaking the dust off one’s feet was one that suggested total abandonment. The disciples were to discharge their responsibility and deliver the words and works of the kingdom. The community who rejected the words and works of the kingdom would suffer judgment from the King.
| Illustration Of Severity Of Judgment: Matthew 10.15
Sodom and Gomorrah were examples of extreme wickedness and of the execution of divine judgment. These cities were often used as an illustration of judgment in the New Testament (Matt. 11.22, 24; Luke 17.29: Rom. 9.29; 2 Pet. 2.6; Jude 7). The rejection of the kingdom would involve a heavier judgment than these cities received.
The Conflict to be Expected: Matt. 10.16-25
Jesus told his disciples what to expect as they went. He was totally open and honest with them about the risk involved. He told them how he was sending them out (10.16a), like sheep who have no defense except their shepherd. They would be attacked by wolves. He told them what attitude they should have (Matt. 10.16b). They should be wise as a serpent (cleverness) and innocent as doves. Innocent means to have a purity of intention and simplicity of purpose. In rabbinic literature, the dove was a symbol of Israel in her patience and faithfulness.
He provided them with expectations by warning them (10.17a), and told them where the opposition would come from (10.17b-21). There are three sources of opposition:
- The religious establishment (Matt. 10.17b). An illustration of this can be seen in the story of Peter and John in Acts 4.1ff, in 5.17, as well as the story of Paul in Acts 30-23.11.
- The government (Matt. 10.18). This is also illustrated in Acts 24-25 in the story of Paul being tried in front of Felix and Festus. In v. 17-18 he shares what they will do, while in v. 19-20 he shares what the disciples should do. Let’s observe that the Spirit is available during times of distress and danger.
- The family (Matt. 10.21). Remember that the family of Jesus was not with him until after his resurrection
The opposition which a believer can expect can be summarized as follows (Matt. 10.22): Believers will be hated (unjust opinion). They should endure until the end (of the persecution).
Verse 23 is one of the most difficult passages in the Second Testament. Martyrdom is not to be sought (Matt. 10.23a). There are six interpretations of this set of words:
- Jesus was mistaken (Albert Schweitzer, The Quest For The Historical Jesus, pp. 358-60).
- The church inserted this saying of Jesus because of its fervent belief in his soon return.
- The destruction of the temple (F.F. Bruce; R.C.H. Lenski)
- Verses 5-14 consider an immediate sending of the Twelve, while verses 15-22 consider a future sending. Verse 23 refers back to the 5-14 section, i.e., they will not finish this mission before Jesus comes on his mission to these towns.
- The mission of Jesus’ disciples will last until the Second Coming of Jesus (Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament, p. 200).
- Coming refers to his coming back from the dead.
Conclusion: Matt. 10. 24-25
The disciples cannot expect to suffer less persecution than their teacher. The disciples will be accused of being influenced by Satan just as their master had been accused.
The Conditions of Discipleship: Matthew 10.26-11.1
There are four exhortations to discipleship.
Exhortation #1: Matt. 10.26-27
Fear of men and their persecution should not stop one from continuing to do the works of the kingdom. Do not be afraid means stop being afraid. It carries an assumption that the disciples had fear and they were told to stop having it. Housetops were the traditional place from which public announcements were made. The disciples should proclaim to all publicly what they had received privately.
Exhortation #2: Matt. 10.28
Stop being afraid of those who can kill you physically but cannot kill the real you. Rather be fearful of God who can destroy both your body and the real you in hell. It is more fearful to disobey God by not proclaiming the kingdom than to be put to death as a martyr.
Exhortation #3: Matt. 10.29-31
God will protect you. The sparrow was a common bird that was sold cheaply and used as food by the poor. Since sparrows are the object of God’s concern, how much more the disciples’ welfare is God’s concern.
Exhortation #4: Matt. 10.32-42
One’s attitude toward Jesus in the present time is decisive for the favor he will receive from Jesus at the final judgment.
The words and works of Jesus will produce division (Matt. 10.34-36). Men will be separated by reason of their response to Jesus. Loyalty should occur in spite of family suffering or physical death (Matt. 10.37-39). One whose affection for his family is so great that it will not allow him to break those ties in order to follow Jesus, behaves in a way that shows his unworthiness (Matt. 10.37). To follow Jesus is to follow a path that could lead to physical death (Matt. 10.38). Those who remain faithful to Jesus at any cost will inherit the life of the age to come (Matt. 10.39).
The treatment given to the disciples of Jesus is accepted by Jesus as a treatment given to him (Matt. 10.40-42).
Book Two ends with a summary statement of Matthew 11.1.
Some Basic Affirmations
The works of Jesus demonstrate the power of God as it invades this present evil age. When God calls on us to minister, he prepares us to go and do his bidding. Conflict is the outcome of working the works of Jesus. We should present the claims of Jesus publicly.
What Can Jesus Followers Learn?
- God’s invasion of the world in the ministry of Jesus is a present reality.
- God delights in sending those prepared to do his work in the world.
- Expect conflict!
- Don’t be afraid to do the works of Jesus in
- A judgmental attitude will only cause grief in
Catalog your ideas about the following thoughts.
- Compassion: What in life raises your compassion? Could this be an area in which God wants to use you to minister his love and care?
- Call and Command: How is your relationship with Jesus maturing? Instruction and Sending: What training do you need to be better equipped to minister the words and works of Jesus?
- Conflict: How well do you handle conflict from the religious establishment, the government, and the family?
- Exhortations: How can you proclaim the words and works of Jesus publicly?
- What do the miracle stories and the response form of Matthew suggest to you about Matthew’s use of the miracle stories?
Community Discussion Questions
➡ |CDQ Info|
- How does the compassion of Jesus for the harassed and helpless play out in your life ministry?
- What preparation do you feel that you need in your ministry life?
- How well do you handle conflict? What can you learn from the teaching of Jesus that will better prepare you for conflict that will occur in ministry?
- What steps can you take to make sure that what you receive privately (in church, home groups, school, etc.), you proclaim publicly?
- How will following Jesus’ command to minister produce division in your life?