A Christmas Carol

Title: The Character of Christ

Text: Matthew 8.1-17

CIT: Jesus is sovereign over all – all places, all people, all problems

CIS: Jesus is sovereign over all – all places, all people, all problems

Introduction: Show the video from 1.25.00-1.27.54 A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is a tale about a man named Ebenezer Scrooge. So famous is this character, that you’ll often find his name attributed to someone who doesn’t like Christmas. And so the story begins by letting us in on his ways. Jacob Marley, a former partner who has passed away some 7 years ago, visits Scrooge (obviously as a ghost/spirit) and warns him of the error of his ways, pleading with him to change his life before it’s too late. Scrooge is then visited by three more ghosts: Christmas past, Christmas present and Christmas yet to come. What Scrooge sees about his life moves him to change and the story ends with Scrooge opening up his heart and his pocketbook. Here is the lesson: You can find meaning for your life

Today I’d like to look at three different stories in the Bible. Our text is found in Matthew 8.1-17. These three stories reveal to us the character of Christ. To be sure, this list is not exhaustive, that is to say, it doesn’t list for us every character trait of Christ. This list is not meant to be.

Context: Jesus has just completed the Sermon on the Mount; rd 7.28-29;

Context: bookends (similar phrases/words)

Matt 4.23-24

5.1-7.29 – Principles

8.1-9.34 – Practice

Matt 9.35-38

Specifically in Ch. 8: 8.1 great crowds followed him & 8.16 – crowds bringing their sick to him.

Structure: this message could be presented in various ways.

  1. Location: When came down; When he entered (temporal participles) verses 1, 5, 14; the 3rd location is still Capernaum (Mt 4.13, 18) but more specific (i.e. Peter’s home)
  2. People: All are sick, most are outcasts (i.e.: of different social standings); looked down on by the Jews
    1. Leper: unclean (v 2 make me clean)
    2. Centurion: Gentile; (v 8 I am not worthy to have you come under my roof) Question: was his slave Jewish?
    3. Woman: Peter’s mother-in-law
    4. Demon oppressed: healed all who were sick
    5. Faith:
      1. The faith of the leper (v 2); the faith of the centurion soldier (v 10, 13); the faith of the oppressed.
      2. Point of Contention: there is no mention of faith by the slave (even though the centurion had it), or even Peter’s mother-in-law (it could be implied that Peter did).
      3. I think the focus of Scripture isn’t so much about us (i.e.: the faith we have), but rather upon Christ.
  3. Character: The Character of Jesus is revealed in each individual circumstance. These stories tell us more about Him (different facets of his character)
        1. I’ve divided my message into three parts, the three parts you find in v 1-17
          1. The Compassion of Christ
          2. The Authority of Christ
          3. The Power of Christ

Transition: Let’s begin looking at Christ’s Character as found in v 1 – The Compassion of Christ

1.     The Compassion of Christ (8.1-4)

exp.: rd 1-3; The Lord Jesus demonstrates his power through his compassion. This man has leprosy, sometimes this word is used to describe various skin diseases; some observations;

  1. Society saw this affliction as The Judgment of God; who sinned?
  2. Therefore, the afflicted were ostracized by the people.
  3. This was seen as permanent. No healing was available. Only God could heal a leper.
  4. Considered Unclean – outcast from the people. “outside the camp” Rd v 4; proof – now he would be allowed ‘back into the camp’.

This guy has been rejected by his society. So what does Jesus do? rd v 3; he touches him; I wonder how long it had been since someone touched this guy? I wonder if this is just what he needed? That’s a demonstration of his compassion! Jesus knew what He needed. He could have just said, as he does to the next person: Go; let it be done for you as you have believed. But, He didn’t. Jesus knew what the leper needed even more than the leper did! Then, he cleanses him, according to the law, and sets him free from his isolation.

Question: why keep quiet about this? Theories:

  • More and more people would hinder his ministry.
  • They would recognize him as the messiah and force him to become king. We know the result of that (cf. Judas).
  • With our penchant for the miraculous, supernatural as humans, they might begin worshipping the miracles, the creation rather than the creator.
  • Jesus knows this man and what he needs to do; Mk 5.18-20

app.: God knows our needs even better than we do!

t.s.: And often times, we see this displayed in his compassion toward us. 2nd we see…

2.     The Authority of Christ (8.5-13)

exp.: Really, this whole section, ch. 8-9 is all about his authority. We do see that specifically here, though, with the soldier in this passage, rd v 5-8; wow! Just say the word;

  1. The Centurion’s Appeal (5-6)– servant is sick; Humble; Honest; What he seeks is healing.
  2. The Centurion’s Acknowledgement of Christ’s Authority (7-9) – This is truly amazing! Maybe not for you and me in this day. But at that particular time, to recognize the authority of Christ over the situation – wow.
  3. The Lord’s Astonishment – I haven’t seen this kind of faith in all of Israel (people – not geography). Rd v 11-12;

Question: How does this fit? This isn’t about healing! Gathering from the east & west – not for Jews, but of these Gentiles. Many of the Jews will be cast out, but the Gentiles will dine with Abraham, Isaac & Jacob. The central truth is what we believe about Jesus. Wow! The ones who are supposed to get in to dine (according to human thinking) are left out. The ones who are to be left out (according to human thinking) are invited in! It’s not your health, your wealth, your nationality, or whom you know. So, this isn’t about healing! It’s about Christ.

    4.  The Lord’s Answer – “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed.

Transition: Christ’s Compassion, His Authority, and finally, His Power

3.     The Power of Christ (8.14-17)

exp.: rd v 14-16; a couple of quick observations:

  • The Results are By his Word – v 16; rd v 3; I will, be clean; v 13; go, let it be done; he need not even be present; he just speaks the word;
  • The results are Immediate: rd v 13c; And the servant was healed at that very moment; rd v 3c – And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. She rose; She served; I don’t know about you, but for me, when I’ve been sick, it takes a couple of days to get my strength back.
  • The results are a fulfillment of Prophecy. Rd v 17; Isaiah 53.4; Craig Bloomberg says that Matthew closely follows the MT in which Isaiah probably intends to use a double entendre – two meanings: there is the physical sickness, but there is also the spiritual sickness of sin.

app.: He bore our sins for us on the Cross of Calvary. Peter gets this clearly when he says in 1 Peter 2.24: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Conclusion: I’m sure you’ve heard of the illustration where the Sunday School answer is always Jesus. Well, really, the answer is always Jesus. Especially, when you consider what the text is probably pointing toward. Yes, Scripture is filled with many life lessons and illustrations. I think it’s true that we need encouragement in our faith. But honestly, faith is only as strong as the object of your faith. Consider the fans in the stands who cry the chant: We Believe! And then their team loses! What good was their faith? Anaware Thabitye: Our faith is only as good as the object of our faith. Ladies and Gentlemen, we can put our faith in Jesus because His word is good.

Transition: So, what are we to make of all this?

Observations & Implications:

  1. You can find meaning for your life when you put your faith in Christ.
  2. The emphasis of this passage is placed on the sovereignty of the Messiah over all
    1. all people – the down and out and the up and in.
    2. all places – near and far,
    3. all problems – no matter the problem too great or too small
    4. Jesus cares about our sickness and our sorrows, but he is most concerned about our souls. Remember v 11? 1 Peter 2.24

Invitation: Come to Christ

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Filed under Matthew, Scripture, Sermons

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