Lent Day 3: Matthew 7-9

So far, I’ve pretty much taken a guided tour through the verses I’ve read. I’ve gone through them bit by bit and tried to unpack them in my head, then in my writing.

Here, though, I’m struck by themes which occur and interlink throughout these there’s verses.

Jesus finishes his sermon on the mount with a warning. You can listen, understand and talk about his message from the father all you want, but unless you actually live it then you may as well have not heard it in the first place, for all the good it’ll do.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matthew 7:24-27 NIV)

We all sung the song at primary school about the wise man building his house upon the rock. I loved the song as a child, but I was far too young to actually appreciate what Jesus was saying with these words.

It’s all to easy to read the Bible, pray, go to Church, sing hymns etc, but unless we actually live the life Jesus is telling us about we have no firm foundation to our lives. We need to see and hear, but we need to tell and do as well.

Jesus goes on to give the example of doing, now he has done some (but not all) of the telling. He travels around, healing many and even bringing people back from the dead.

Here, we see another theme which epitomizes Jesus’ life and teaching.

“A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” ”

“The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.””

” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”  Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. ”

“Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” ”

“As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,”  he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.”

“Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,”  he said, “your faith has healed you.”  And the woman was healed at that moment. ”

“When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”
“Yes, Lord,” they replied.”

The leper, the centurion, the woman, the paralysed man’s friends, Matthew and the blind men all demonstrated great faith. They all recognised Jesus’ power and authority and knew that he can be taken at his word when he says “ask and it will be given to you”. They ask, because they know he can and will do it if it is God’s will.

This is where we all tend to fall down when it comes to building our house on the rock or on the sand. It’s easy to hear and to believe, but to do and to follow requires so much faith that we often don’t feel strong enough. I always give excuses for not doing what I’m being called to do; I’m too busy, I have other priorities right now, I’m not the right person for this, I am not good enough, I’ll never make it work…

Me, me, me, me!

It’s not about me. It’s not about any of us. In all of these stories the people involved have enough faith to finally act, but it’s Jesus who actually makes it work. None of the sick people would have healed without him. Matthew would just be a tax collector without him. Their faith and his power work together.

Even if your faith is weak. The only people here who demonstrate a lack of faith, ironically, are the disciples, wailing for their lives in the boat. Jesus rebukes them, but…

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”” (Matthew 9:36-38 NIV)

When Jesus needs someone to do the job, the big job of starting to bring people to him and closer to the kingdom, he calls his disciples. With their weak faith and broken lives he still sees them as the right people, strong enough, good enough. Why would He be hear if he didn’t think that?

He knows us all. He knows me. He knows you. He knows our fears, insecurities, weaknesses, vices, darkest thoughts and all the bad stuff. But he knows our strengths, our love, our compassion, our potential, better than even we do. And he calls us all to follow, then to be workers in his field.

Have faith. He has faith in us.

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