Matthew 12:15-21: “Silent” Evangelism

Read: Matthew 12:15-21

It may strike someone as odd that Jesus wouldn’t want those he healed to tell about them. But Jesus had just healed one on the Sabbath and the Pharisees didn’t like that were wanting to destroy him. Nevertheless, Jesus still healed many people in spite of this, but Jesus warned them not to tell about him because it wasn’t his time to go to the cross.

Matthew quotes Isaiah 42:1-4 to describe these events. This Old Testament text tells of God’s “Chosen Servant” who accomplishes his mission quietly using several metaphors to describe how the prophet won’t be heard in the streets. The expectation of the Messiah for many was a political leader who drive out Rome and restore Israel to independence. But Jesus came has an itinerant rabbi that would heal people. He was not a conquering general and eventually he died in a manner that was reserved for criminals. However, after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, Jesus commissions his disciples to tell the world about him, and they do. Isaiah 42 points to this motif – even though Jesus was quiet in his ministry, the nations would put their trust in him.

Since the time of Jesus, Christians have been proclaiming Jesus to the world and many are coming to faith because of it. Jesus’ ministry – a ministry of preaching repentance as salvation, is the work of missions. Some have interpreted the Great Commission as command to “Christianize” the world, and do it through conquest. This was never Jesus’ intent, rather he showed the disciples how and what to do. And the early church followed the pattern of preaching from place to place until all the world could here, and the task still applies until Jesus returns!

Lord, help me to be like you: preaching Good News so the nations can hope in you!

Luke 5:1-11: Here am I! Send Me!

Read: Luke 5:1-11

Virtually everywhere Jesus went, people wanted to here the word of God because this word had the power to heal the sick and command demons (Luke 4:36. Luke 4:39). This also made Jesus’ fame spread throughout the region of Galilee. Undoubtedly, all that lived in that area had heard of Jesus by now and the wonders he performed. When Jesus came to the edge of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Lake of Gennesaret he met fishermen who were mending their nets after a long night of fishing. Jesus told them to put down their nets again, and they agreed to do so at his word. When they did, they caught so many fish they couldn’t contain them and had to call for help. His gospel was one to call people to repentance.

Peter’s response to Jesus is one of awe and wonder, and in doing so he comes face to face with his sin. He asks Jesus to leave his presence because he immediately recognizes that Jesus is the Holy One of God. Peter’s response was not unlike Isaiah’s response when he encountered God (Isaiah 6:1-8). Isaiah saw God seated on a throne, exalted. The mere sight seeing God was enough overwhelm someone to the point of death (Exodus 33:20). God cleansed Isaiah and made him his messenger to proclaim the word of God. In much the same manner, Jesus did this with Peter. He tells him from that point on that he would “catch men” – a reference to his new occupation as a disciple and apostle of Jesus. At this, James and John along with Peter left everything and followed Jesus.

God’s word is powerful indeed in how it transforms lives. Romans 10:11-15 outlines this process: faith comes by hearing the word. In order for this to happen they have to have the word preached to them, which means that some one has to be sent. Paul saw himself as one of these “sent ones” (Romans 1:1, Romans 11:13), the literal translation of the Greek word “apostolos” from where the word apostle comes from. While there was a special office of capital “A” Apostles in the New Testament which included the original 12 (Mark 10:2-4), Mathias who replaced Judas (Acts 1:26), and lastly Paul, there were little “a” apostles that were also “sent ones” who were sent out to proclaimed the gospel (Romans 16:7, Philippians 2:25, 2 Corinthians 8:23). In the modern vernacular, little “a” apostles would be called missionaries – ones who are sent out from a church to preach the gospel to that others may hear the word of God and believe. One of the main missions of the church as a whole is to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). The natural response to salvation is obedience, as Isaiah and Peter did – they left everything to follow God’s commands. This applies to every believer. But from among the church, God calls some out to be special envoys to be his “sent ones” to take the gospel to places and preach to those who have never heard the name of Jesus so those that have not heard can hear, believe, and proclaim themselves. Whether one is a sender or a sent one, it requires both to accomplish the task the God has set before the church to make disciples. Everyone therefore should be involved in whatever role he or she is in.

Lord, here am I! Send Me!

Hebrews 11:9-19 The Faith of Abraham

Read: Hebrews 11:9-19

Abraham has been called the “father of faith” and is the patriarch to the Hebrew people – it is from Abraham that most every Hebrew would have traced his or her lineage The author of Hebrews takes a large chunk of his accolade to pay tribute to the faith of Abraham – more than any other figure and makes several remarks concerning the faith of Abraham:

  • Abraham left his homeland of Ur and moved because God told him to do so (Genesis 12:1-4). God didn’t tell him were to go, rather he just left and God lead the way.
  • Abraham lived in Canaan – the land that was promised to him — as a foreigner in that land. God promised the land to Abraham (Genesis 17:8), but he did not get to claim it, rather it wasn’t until Joshua’s time that the land was conquered (Joshua 24:3).
  • Abraham and Sarah had a son in their old age (Genesis 17:17-19, Genesis 18:11-14, Genesis 21:1-2). God had promised a great nation to them (Genesis 12:1-4), but this wouldn’t be possible without a son. God made it possible by giving them Isaac.
  • After Isaac was born, God wanted him to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice (Genesis 22:1-22) even though God had promised to specifically bless Abraham through Isaac (Genesis 17:19, Genesis 22:12). The author of Hebrews reckons that Abraham believed that God could raise Isaac from the dead.

Abraham believed God, but he himself really never got to see the promises himself, save the promise of his son, Isaac. The author of Hebrews notes that while Abraham was living in a tent, he was looking forward to a permanent city built by God. This forward looking faith was what made it all possible, and indeed Abraham was faithful. Not only is Abraham the faith of many nations biologically, he is considered the father of faith for all those who believe. Galatians 3 explains how Christ is the “seed” of Abraham which was spoken to in Genesis 22:17-18. For this reason, all who have faith in Jesus are descendants of Abraham (Galatians 3:29). One day, there will be people from every tribe, tongue and nation worshiping God (Revelation 7:9-10). It is here when the promise to Abraham that all the nations of the world would be blessed through him will truly be fulfilled. While life on earth may not be full of blessings, believers can look forward to the permanent city of God where people from all over the globe will worship the one who brings blessing to everyone. Believers are like sojourners passing through this life with great expectations about what God is going to do (2 Corinthians 5:1-6)!

Lord, I am a descendant of Abraham!

Help me to know I’m part of the promise you made so long ago!

Hebrews 11:3: Faith and Creation

Read: Hebrews 11:3: Faith and Creation

When the author of Hebrews writes about faith as it relates to creation – he says that by faith we understand that the world was called into existence by God’s word and from things “not seen” it has its being. The author of Hebrews is recalling the creation account from Genesis 1. Genesis 1:1 asserts that God created the heavens and the earth, and then continues to give the account of creation through the end of the chapter. Genesis 1:2 asserts that the earth is “formless” and “void”. Psalm 33:6 says that God made the universe by a word – that is he spoke it into existence out of nothingness. The traditional understanding of this is called “ex nihilo” creation – creation out of nothing rather than out of some sort of pre-existing matter.

Perhaps the reason the author of Hebrews asserts that believers understand creation as an act of God is because people were not present during the act of creation. But the act of creation is evident in the created on many counts. The act of creation from nothing is evident from cause and purpose. Any number of things exhibit cause. Children are a result of their parents, who are a result of their parents and so on. A table made of wood is derived from a tree, which owes its existence to growth from the ground, rain, and sunshine, and other elements and so on. These causal chains, however, are not circular nor are they infinite and thereby require an ultimate first cause, which is God. These arguments form a class of arguments called “cosmological arguments”. Purpose is exhibited in creation as well in the form of design, morality, and ascetics. The arguments here reason that such things are not the product of natural processes, rather the product of a being, who is God. These arguments form a class of arguments called “teleological arguments”.

Paul argues in Romans 1:18-20 that the creator is evidence in the created, such that men are “without excuse”. In a similar fashion, Paul argues that God created man such that man is not far from God. And for some time, God overlooked ignorance and is calling men to repent (Acts 17:22-31). Creation testifies to the glory of God, and should spur men towards repentance. But this is not enough to result in salvation. Believing that God exists is not enough – one needs Jesus for salvation. For this reason, Paul closes the letter to the Romans, he declaring his intent to go to Spain so he can declare Jesus where Jesus was not known (Romans 15:18-25). While the creator is evident in the created, the creator has given believers the task of declaring Jesus to the world (Matthew 28:19-20). People cannot believe in something they have never heard about, and for this reason it is the responsibility of Christians to take the gospel to the nations so they may have a complete faith resulting in salvation (Romans 10:4-17).

Lord, creation declares your splendor!

Help me to declare Jesus!