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Matthew 8:1-9:38 by Robert Dean
If you appreciate true accounts about famous people, you'll enjoy the wealth of information Matthew offers about the life of Jesus Christ. Listen to this lesson to learn how Christ fulfilled what was prophesied in the Old Testament about the coming Messiah. Gain an overview of the significance of the order Matthew chose to list Jesus' miracles. Understand the appeal Jesus made to His followers to become disciples and how He detailed the cost involved. See that for us, as well as for the people who lived in that day, discipleship means being willing to sacrifice everything, including our comfort and our security. The mobile app that Dr. Dean mentioned at the beginning of the class is called and is available for free from the Apple Apps Store or Google Play Store. It offers the spoken Bible in over 800 languages.
Series:Matthew (2013)
Duration:55 mins 23 secs

The Works of the Messiah
Matthew 8:1-9:38
Matthew Lesson #047
August 24, 2014

Chapters eight and nine fit together as a whole. There are a lot of different details that are given in these passages and Matthew records ten miracles. It is interesting how he organizes it, and I think it is important to fly over and look at the organization because there is an emphasis in his structure. There is a doctrinal challenge for each of us in the way he structures this. It is not just a matter of each individual episode and what we might learn from that but it is how he, under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, organizes this in order to make his case; which on the surface is to establish the credentials through the works of Jesus, that He was indeed the prophesied Messiah as described in the Old Testament. But there is an implicit challenge in that to each and every person who wishes to be a follower or disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Just by way of review let's think our way through the structure of the Gospel of Matthew. In the first few chapters we have recorded the legal qualifications in terms of His genealogy and His birth. He is legally qualified to be the Messiah. He is born through virgin conception and virgin birth, and thus He fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. Matthew chapters three and four describe the baptism, the inauguration of His ministry, as well as His character as He passes the temptations from the Devil in the wilderness.

After that He began His ministry and like the forerunner, His predecessor John the Baptist, He is proclaiming the nearness of the kingdom. This is crucial for understanding everything in the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew is telling us why Jesus Christ is the King and he is emphasizing this message of the kingdom. Remember Matthew is writing to a Jewish audience, and audience of Jewish background Christians, somewhere around AD 50. He is answering and reaffirming for them the answer to questions related to the messianic credentials of Jesus of Nazareth. By that time persecution had developed to some degree in Judea and Galilee and so he is addressing their questions and giving them greater confidence that, yes, even though the kingdom has not come in and has been postponed Jesus was the promised Messiah. He is going back and giving us evidence of Jesus' messiahship.

He is emphasizing the words of Jesus in Matthew 5-7. The Messiah instructed His disciples on the righteous character He required on the part of Israel for the kingdom to come in. His teaching there and the emphasis on experiential righteousness that we saw, authenticates Him as the Messiah.

Now we come to Matthew chapters eight and nine and he is going to give us evidence through the works of the Messiah, through His miracles, that Jesus is indeed the Messiah. We must understand that Matthew is presenting Jesus as the Messiah in terms of His works. There are ten miracles that are given in this section and they are not given in chronological order. If you were to be reading Matthew side by side with Luke you would see that in Luke you would have most of the same miracles in much different order. Some of them might even come before the Sermon on the Mount; some came later. Matthew is not organizing his material chronologically; he is organizing it didactically. He is presenting a case for Jesus as the Messiah. So what he is doing is very different from our western mindset. We are not to look at these as biographies in a modern sense. They are evangelistic tracts designed to communicate a specific point in relation to who Jesus was, and for Matthew Jesus is the King of the Jews; Jesus is the promised Messiah. And so he is looking at all of the data in the life of the Messiah and picking the evidence to support the thesis that Jesus is the Messiah. So he selects from these various events that occurred in the Galilean ministry of our Lord.

When we look at the general structure of the Lord's life we have His birth and we have a blank spot from His infancy to His appearance before John the Baptist and His public presentation. He appears to John down on the Jordan River not far from Jericho where He is baptized. Then first He went up to Cana of Galilee and then to Jerusalem. We know this from John chapters two and three. In Jerusalem He met with Nicodemus. Some opposition began at that time and He went north to Galilee. We have His Galilean ministry, which is summarized here to some degree in Matthew 8 and 9.   

As we will see in the structure here is that there is the beginning of and an increase in opposition towards Jesus from the religious leaders. We need to pay attention to that as we go through Matthew. A second thing that we see that is a major theme is Matthew is the role of the disciples—the role of being a disciple. Matthew is the only Gospel of the four that records the Great Commission in terms of making disciples. Jesus said: "Baptizing and making disciples, teaching everyone to obey all that I have commanded." There is this emphasis that we are all to be disciples. Disciple is one of those religious words that people often have misused or abused, or misused so frequently that it loses its meaning. It is basically describing someone who is a student of the Scriptures and who is following and implementing their instruction in their lives. The term disciple is not a synonym for a believer, but the term describes a certain kind of believer who has decided that he is going to follow the Lord Jesus Christ with every ounce of his being. He isn't going to be satisfied with just going to heaven as his eternal destiny, he wants to grow and mature spiritually in his life.

So in the Gospel of Matthew there is this emphasis on discipleship. There is an emphasis on Jesus' training of the disciples so that they in turn can multiply themselves as they go out and teach others eventually at the beginning of the church age. This is important for us because as we look at Matthew chapters eight and nine there is a general structure here that is important to follow.

In chapter eight we begin with four miracles. These are covered in vv. 1-17. Then there is an interlude that focuses on the cost or the responsibilities of discipleship. There are two examples given at that point. Then we come to more miracles. The first four were miracles of healing. Then there were two instances related to discipleship in vv. 18-22, and then in vv. 23ff we have three miracles given showing Jesus' power over creation. There is His miracle of stilling the storm in vv. 23-27, His power over the demons in vv. 28-34, and then His power over disease and ability to forgive sins in 9:18.

Then we have a shift back to discipleship. We have the call of Matthew in 9:9-13 and there is an indication of the increase of opposition there. Jesus is questioned about fasting by the disciples of John, so there are two illustrations related to discipleship. Starting in v. 18 we have two miracles that are intertwined, so this is usually viewed as one example. Even though there are two instances of healing they are interconnected. Both are related to restoration. The last group of three miracles here relate to restoration. They relate to restored life, and then the second in this group are the two blind men that are healed, the restoration of sight. The last and tenth miracle is the restoration of speech for the mute man in vv. 32-34.

Then we have a closing summary. Sometimes you have heard me say that it is important to begin with the end in mind. I've often found in reading, especially in more technical things, it is better to go to the end and see what the writer's conclusion is so I can understand the parts and components of what comes before, because any good writer is going to be driving towards a specific conclusion. So we see at the end here a conclusion or summary that Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing. That is something of a summary going back to Matthew 4:23 NASB "Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people."         

Matt 9:36, 37 NASB "Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few'."

This is important to understand. Why is this in Scripture? What does Matthew expect of us? What does God expect of us when we read this? We have a group of four miracles of healing, two instances related to discipleship, a group of three miracles related to power over creation and forgiveness of sin, and then we have two more illustrations related to discipleship followed by the last set of three miracles related to restoration. Why does Matthew put these two groups of two illustrations of discipleship in the middle of this list of miracles? He did that for a reason. When we come to the summary it will help us to understand the reason. What Matthew is basically saying is that the power and authority of Jesus demands a response from us to submit to that authority and to follow Him as a disciple.

This is what is brought out in Matthew 9:37-38. NASB "He said to His disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few'. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest." The workers are disciples, and not just the twelve disciples but any who will step to the plate and respond to the challenge of being a genuine disciple of Jesus Christ. Those who are genuine disciples are those who respond to the implicit challenge of Jesus' authority to commit themselves fully to being and obedient disciple in those two groups of two illustrations. That is how these things connect together.

That is our first flyover. I want to do another flyover with a little more detail and orient us geographically as we look at the works of the Messiah in chapters eight and nine.

In this map we are looking at the northern part of Israel, basically all of Galilee although in the lower part there is the northern part of Samaria. Phoenicia is on the coast. To the north east of the Valley of Meggido we find the Sea of Galilee. It is really not a sea. That is a mistranslation of the Greek THALASSA, which can mean either a sea or a lake. This is the center of Jesus' ministry. We should be aware of the important fishing village of Capernaum, often thought to be the home of Nahum the prophet of the Old Testament. It is the home of Peter and his brother Andrew. This is where Jesus has moved to and is the center of His operations and ministry in Galilee. From what we see in this passage He doesn't actually own a home but He lives there.

As I pointed out in the conclusion, Jesus is going about Galilee teaching and preaching and healing people. This is indicated in Matthew chapter four as Jesus began His ministry where we have a summary statement given, and then we have a summary statement given at the end of chapter nine. This forms sort of bookends and in between we have the three chapters of the Sermon on the Mount and then these two chapters with the miracles of Jesus.

Matthew 4:17 NASB "From that time Jesus began to preach and say, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand'." The emphasis is on the nearness of the kingdom. His teaching, preaching and healing ministry is directly related to establishing His credentials as the Messiah as He is announcing the nearness of the kingdom. Because the King is here the kingdom is near. This is basically what Jesus is saying.

The words that are used here: DIDASKO indicates instruction and prescriptions for conduct. Jesus is giving instruction in the synagogues. He is preaching the gospel, also identified as the gospel of the kingdom, which isn't the same gospel that we are preaching. The gospel of the kingdom is that the kingdom is near, so repent, change, conform to the Law, and God will bring in the kingdom. So this is a proclamation. Preaching, technically in the Scripture, is a proclamation of the truth; it is not instruction, and it is not what we often in our culture preaching, which is more like exhortation. We abuse the term "preaching" too often. THERAPEUO is the word meaning to cure or to heal.

In order to catch the drift here it is important to understand a little background. Matthew 11:2-4 NASB "Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent {word} by his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” Jesus answered and said to them, 'Go and report to John what you hear and see'." Even John (Jesus' cousin, remember) is a little confused about what Jesus is doing. He recognizes that the miracles that are taking place in Jesus' ministry are designed to authenticate His claim to be the Messiah, and this is how Jesus answers. The miracles that Jesus was performing were miracles that authenticated His claim to be Messiah, and then He lists them.

Matthew 11:5, 6 NASB "{the} BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and {the} lame walk, {the} lepers are cleansed and {the} deaf hear, {the} dead are raised up, and {the} POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM. And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me."

So Jesus' answer to John is really taking John back to the Old Testament. The Old Testament prophesied a Messiah who would demonstrate certain things in His life.

Isaiah 35:4-6 NASB "Say to those with anxious heart, 'Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come {with} vengeance; The recompense of God will come, But He will save [physical deliverance] you.' Then the eyes of the blind will be opened And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness And streams in the Arabah'."

Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners".

So the point that Jesus is making to John the Baptist is: Look at my works and you will see that I conform to everything that the prophets prophesied in the Old Testament related to the Messiah. In contrast the negative volition of the Pharisees are described in Matthew 12:24-28 where they basically said that Jesus was performing His miracles under the power of Beelzebul (an alternate name for Satan) the ruler of the demons. Jesus' answer to that: Matthew 12:26-28 NASB "If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? If I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast {them} out? For this reason they will be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you." That means, Because I, the King, am here the kingdom is near and it is close in proximity if you will simply conform to the Law, respond to the grace of God and accept God's grace for salvation, for imputed righteousness, and accept me as Messiah and live in terms of experiential righteousness. 

The basic structure. The first four miracles and miracles of healing, Matthew 8:1-17. As we look at this, again we should go to the summary verse at the end where Matthew quotes from Isaiah 53:4 NASB "Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried …" Matthew is telling us he has given these four examples of the kind of healing miracles that Jesus performed and it fits the pattern prophesied in the Old Testament.

The first miracle is a miracle related to healing a leper. There were two types of miracles that the rabbis believed only the Messiah could perform. One was the healing of a leper; the other was the restoration of sight to the blind. No one but the Messiah could perform those two kinds of miracles. Two things are evident in this passage. The leper comes to Jesus and is worshiping Him.

Leprosy in the Bible is not identical to Hansen's disease, which is brought up as modern leprosy. Modern leprosy may be a subset of what the Bible talks about in terms of leprosy as a whole, but what the Bible describes as leprosy would also include mold and mildew on walls or on clothing, or something of that nature. So it is a fairly broad term. Anyone who was a leper had to be cleansed but because it was viewed as being unclean, but there was no process given in the rabbinical law for the cleansing and the healing of a leper. Because once you had leprosy there was no reversal of it. The leper was to be kept completely apart from everybody else and no one could touch a leper. If they did then they would have to be isolated to make sure they had not contracted the disease, and if they did then they were excluded from the community.

Notice that what Jesus does is put out His hand and touches the leper. Jesus does not become unclean by touching the leper but the leper becomes clean by having been touched by Jesus. Note that the leper knows who Jesus is and understands that Jesus can heal him, and the leper comes and bows down to worship Jesus. He says, "If you will". He doesn't have presumption.

Matthew 8:2, 3 NASB "And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, 'Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.' Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, 'I am willing; be cleansed.' And immediately his leprosy was cleansed." Three times the word "cleansed" is used there, which emphasized this. Then Jesus said: "Don't tell anyone". Why? We have to read the next verse.

Matthew 8:4 NASB "And Jesus said to him, 'See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them'." This was what was required by the Mosaic Law, so Jesus deliberately sends the cleansed leper to the priesthood to show first of all that He is obedient to the Law, and secondly because then the priests have to confirm the cleansing of the leper. They have to investigate whether he was ever truly a leper and once they came to that conclusion they would be forced to identify the fact that the leper had been completely cleansed of leprosy. This had never happened before so therefore the questions. Who cleansed you? Who did this? It was Jesus of Nazareth. Therefore they would be forced to acknowledge that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. By sending this man to the priesthood is in effect establishing a strategy where the priest would have to authenticate His messianic claim.

The second miracle moves from a Jewish context (from a Jewish leper) to a Gentile context; a centurion who was a Roman officer in command of a hundred. There are several centurions mentioned in Scripture. They are all mentioned positively. He is a Gentile and he comes to Jesus in Capernaum and pleads for his servant who is at home and in considerable pain. He pleads with Jesus to heal him.

Matthew 8:8 NASB "But the centurion said, 'Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed'." This is a sign of humility, a sign of recognition that a Jew could not come into the home of a Gentile without becoming defiled, so he doesn't want Jesus to come into his home; but it is also a recognition of authority. The centurion himself is one who recognizes a chain of command and He knows that Jesus is at the top of the chain of command, and that He doesn't have to actually come into the home in order to heal his servant; He can give an order and it will be accomplished without Jesus being there.

Jesus marvels at this (in His humanity). Matthew 8:10 NASB "Now when Jesus heard {this,} He marveled and said to those who were following, 'Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel'." So here we see a contrast to Israel. Israel is not responding to Him as the Gentile centurion has. [11] "I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline {at the table} with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven…" Reclining indicates a banquet, and the fact that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are mentioned emphasizes the Jewish nature of that banquet in relation to the kingdom. [12] "but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." The phrase "sons of the kingdom" would indicate those who lack faith in Jesus as the Messiah.

We will get into the details of verse 12 because this is a problem passage for some because of various issues related to other uses of the terms "outer darkness" and "weeping and gnashing of teeth". The term is taken by some to mean almost a Christian purgatory. They are not only excluded from the millennial kingdom but they are put in a place of torments and punishment for a thousand years. I completely reject that as a heretical view. There are others who simply take this as being a metaphor for those who will be ashamed at the judgment seat of Christ, which is clear from other passages, and so they are excluded from some of the millennial blessings. I believe, though, that each of these passages must be taken in context. Here I believe that the "sons of the kingdom" is a reference to those who have a proper expectation of the kingdom, i.e. Jews, but they are not responsive to the gospel message and so are removed.

Matthew 8:13 NASB "And Jesus said to the centurion, 'Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed'." And the servant was healed that {very} moment.

So what we see is that the leper is immediately healed and the servant of the centurion is immediately healed. It isn't some process. When Jesus heals it is immediate. 

The third example is when Jesus heals Peter's mother-in-law who has some debilitating fever, some kind of disease. Jesus goes into the house touches her hand, and the fever leaves her.

The last example in this first grouping is just a general statement. Matthew 8:16 NASB "When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill." This is evidence of His messianic credentials, according to the prophecy of Isaiah 53:4, 5. Notice that in Isaiah 53:4, as in several passages in the Old Testament, there is this connection of disease with sin. This is not the popular view at that time which was if you were sick it was because you had committed a certain sin. The Scriptural view is that we have illness in the world because there is sin as a total concept in the world. Because of the fall of Adam disease has entered into the universe. That is where the connection is. Because Jesus will solve the sin problem He is also going to be able to solve the problem of disease. Notice the parallel in Isaiah 53:5, which shows that he is not just talking about physical pain or disease but the ultimate cause which is sin in the world.

In the next section the emphasis is on the cost of discipleship. Two examples are given.

Matthew 8:19 NASB "Then a scribe came and said to Him, 'Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go'." Jesus knows that he is not fully committed, and so He says, [20] Jesus said to him, 'The foxes have holes and the birds of the air {have} nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head'." He recognizes that a core problem for many who wish to follow Jesus is that they are too attached to different details of life that give them security in this life. We have to be willing to give up any attachment to the things of the world, the details of life, if we are going to be a true or genuine disciple of Jesus. We have to have a total commitment to follow Him and be willing to sacrifice anything.

This isn't a strange concept. Think back to the events of July 4, 1776 when the founders of the United States of America signed the Declaration of Independence. That Declaration closed in the last line with these words:

And for the support of this Declaration, with the firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other [the signatories of the Declaration] our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."

And there were many who lost their fortunes. There were a few that gave up their lives or their health during the war for independence. They were willing to give up everything, even to the point of losing their lives for the sake of political and civil liberty from Britain. Because of their dedication we have what we have.

Here is my argument. If we honor them for that, and in our good moment we think that we would be willing to commit to the same thing, that is nothing compared to what Jesus Christ is asking. He is saying the same kind of thing: that if you really are committed to the Lord of the universe, and you claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ, you have to be willing to potentially give up everything—your comfort, your security zone, everything you look to in this life as a basis of happiness. If you are not willing to follow Jesus in that way then you have an incomplete obedience and are not really focused on the task at hand, which is what is required of any who are going to be a true disciple.

That is the challenge, and it is articulated again in the next example. Matthew 8:21 NASB "Another of the disciples said to Him, 'Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father [family responsibilities]'. [22] But Jesus said to him, 'Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead'." Jesus is recognizing that it is an incomplete commitment. And Jesus said the kingdom message and the kingdom program is so important that it overrides all other priorities.

Then we come to the next group where Jesus goes out on the boat with His disciples and the storm comes up. The disciples were fishermen and had been out on the Sea of Galilee their whole lives. But this was a greater storm than they would normally experience and they are afraid. And the whole time Jesus is asleep in the back of the boat thoroughly relaxed. They wake Him up and He rebukes them for not having enough faith. This is not faith for salvation; it is faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ in terms of the details of life. If you are going to be a disciple then you have to be willing to trust the Lord for the details in your life. Jesus rebukes the winds, much like He would rebuke the demons, and there was great calm immediately. It doesn't take a while for the waves to die down; it is immediate. The men are astounded: "What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?"

Matthew 8:26 NASB "He said to them, 'Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?'" Some translations have, "Who can this man be?" in v. 27. There is no "man" in the verse, it is, "Who is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?" So He has power over creation. He has power over the demon-possessed when He sends the demons into the herd of swine. The first shows that Jesus has power over creation, and when the kingdom comes in that He is promising He will solve the environmental problem. He is the God over creation. The second example, is giving a preview of coming attractions: He will exercise authority over the demons and over Satan. They will be excluded from the kingdom. In the third example, He heals a paralytic and the scribes challenge Him. This is the beginning of opposition. 

Matthew 9:2 NASB "And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, 'Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.' [3] And some of the scribes said to themselves, 'This {fellow} blasphemes'." And Jesus said, [5] "Which is easier, to say, "Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, and walk'?" Any of us can easily say to somebody your sins are forgiven. Who is to know whether they are or not? But to say to somebody, Stand up, take your pallet and walk, indicates a greater power. Word began to spread about Jesus' power.

So the second set of miracles demonstrated His power over creation, His power over the demons, and His power over disease to exemplify His ability to forgive sins, and that in the kingdom sins would be forgiven.

Then there is another interlude related to disciples: His call of Matthew the tax collector. Matthew takes Him to his house and has a big party for all the other tax collectors and sinners, and so the Pharisees and scribes wouldn't be caught dead there. But since Jesus is there they show up and challenge Him. Why is He associating with tax collectors and sinners? This was something they would never do. The emphasis there is Jesus' challenge to them with Hosea 6, saying they need to understand the true nature of mercy and sacrifice. It is not superficial. Hosea 6:6 NASB "For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings."

Then another question from John's disciples, v. 14. "Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?" Jesus brings out the point that He is the bridegroom, and when the bridegroom is present people will have a feast but when the bridegroom leaves and departs—indicating that He will be rejected eventually—then His followers will fast and mourn.

When we come to the last set of three the first two are linked together. There is the woman who has had this problem for twelve years. She has been hemorrhaging, so she is unclean for the twelve years. She sees Jesus in the crowd and reaches out to touch the hem of His garment. It is an act of worship and she is expecting to be healed. Jesus knows the power has gone out from Him, and He turns to her and says, v. 22 'Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.' At once the woman was made well.

In Leviticus we are told that the life of the flesh is in the blood. The fact that she is bleeding continuously indicates a lack of life. So the healing is to indicate that Jesus has power over life. This is why this is interconnected with His restoration of the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue. We know from Luke that this is Jairus. His daughter had died and Jesus will restore her to life. Both of these instances indicate that Jesus has power to restore life.

The next example in vv. 27-31 He gives sight to two blind men. Previously when Jesus had addressed the demons they referred to Him as the Son of God. Prior to that Jesus had referred to Himself as the Son of Man. Here Jesus refers to Himself as the son of David. And so three key titles that are all messianic in their implication are used in this section, again reemphasizing the fact of Jesus' legitimate claim to be the Messiah.

He gives sight to the two blind men, and again, in rabbinical thought only the Messiah could give sight to those who were blind. But what we see here again is increased opposition from the Pharisees as seen in the third example. Jesus casts out the demon from a mute man and the multitudes again marvel at this. They are astounded at what Jesus is doing but the Pharisees now say He casts out demons by the ruler of demons. This will be their ultimate rationale that we will see in Matthew chapter twelve for why they reject Jesus.

This gives us the structure. Jesus is showing who He is by the miracles. Our Lord has incredible power. And we observe this, knowing that these examples are as real today as when Jesus performed them, and that this same implicit challenge is present for us as it was for the disciples of His day. He is who He claimed to be, the Lord of the universe. He has a right and a claim to our allegiance, our obedience, and our complete and total devotion. He is calling us not just to faith in Him for eternal life but to follow Him with every ounce of our being and to be completely dedicated to Him. This is the thrust of this final challenge. He says: "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few."

The challenge is, are you and I willing to be counted among the laborers, to be fully dedicated to Jesus, to be focused upon the mission which is to proclaim the gospel, to be ambassadors for Jesus Christ, and to live our lives where we pursue spiritual maturity and become witnesses to the greatness of God to both the angels and mankind? As part of that we need to be involved in ministry. Matthew 9:38 NASB "Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest." To be sent out as a laborer means we have to be trained as a laborer. That is the challenge; we have to be trained.

Is it just words that we want to follow Jesus? Are we truly willing to put everything on the line for Jesus? Are we really willing to pledge our life, our possessions, our honor, everything, for the sake of obedience to Jesus Christ in following Him? That is the challenge.