A Prayer Prompted by the Genealogy in Matthew 1

Heavenly Father,

We thank you that you did not send Jesus only to the prominent and lovable people of this world or for their sake only.  Thank you that our Savior has the variety of people that he has in his family line. We see the lost, the lonely, the unloved and the despised there giving his genealogy a fair representation of the human race.  The adulterer and immigrant are found alongside the kings and counselors.  In some cases they are the same people.  

You knew who we were and what kind of Savior we needed.  Therefore, you sent us Jesus Christ, your unique, your only-begotten Son, in a way and to a people that would require him to identify with us in all of our sin and shame.  Thank you furthermore for the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It through him and because of his work that we live.

Amen

Matthew 9 Verse by Verse

Matt photoChrist’s public ministry moves forward with even more miracles.  He ends with a prayer request for us, to pray for laborers that will help with the spiritual harvest.

Matthew 09.pdf

Matthew 09.mp3

 

A Prayer Prompted by Matthew 9:36-38

36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Heavenly Father,

Christ had compassion on the shepherdless crowds who were harassed and helpless.  In response he asked us to pray, and so this is what we are doing.  He alone is their true Shepherd, their Good Shepherd and Chief Shepherd.

There are multitudes who need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news of who he is and what he has done.  There are multitudes more who need to hear it again, who need to be reminded or given one more opportunity to respond.

None of us can accomplish this task alone.  Please, heavenly Father, send out laborers.  As Jesus pointed out, the harvest is truly plentiful and the laborers few.  Send out laborers into this great harvest field.  Let their labors lead to the increase of your church.  Let their labors be used to build your church.  Let eternity be filled with more people brought into your family as a result of the laborers that you send out in response to our prayers.  Let disciples be multiplied and the knowledge of your word be increased.  And let your name be glorified throughout all ages as a result.

Amen.

Vicarious faith – Matthew 9:18-19, 23-26

Christ’s death for our sins is sometimes referred to as vicarious atonement.  He took responsibility for us when we were incapable of atoning for ourselves.  That is a wonderful fact and an essential concept that is basic to the Christian faith.  If you want, you can read more about it here.

Now we are going to talk about something else — vicarious faith — an idea central to the Christian life.  Needy people are not always in a position to believe.  They may need us to step in for them and take the responsibility upon ourselves to believe.  Our faith can stand in for their faith, our prayers for their prayers.  Matthew 9 shows us an extreme case.

18 While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. … 23 And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, 24 he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.”And they laughed at him. 25 But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. 26 And the report of this went through all that district.

The ruler came to Jesus on behalf of his daughter.  She was dead.  In the house was a lifeless, breathless and certainly faithless corpse.  Her father reached out in faith when she was unable to believe for herself.  The mourners were no help.  Their expressions of grief were interrupted by their laughing at Jesus.  But Jesus did what Jesus does and the girl arose.  I want to exercise that kind of faith on behalf of others.

Goldilocks zeal – Matthew 8:18-22

Like the famous porridge in the story of Goldilocks, a person’s response to Jesus can be “too hot” or “too cold.”  Let’s take  a look at a couple of examples before we determine what a “just right” response would be. 

18 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. 19 And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 

This scribe seems to have not thought his commitment through.  His response is too hot, or overzealous, given his level of understanding.  Jesus may made his home in Capernaum, possibly with Simon Peter and family, but the reality of his ministry meant that he didn’t often get back there at night.  At a deeper level, we have to think through where our true home is.  Paul reminds believers that our true citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20).  If we do not consider this reality, then we may find our commitment to Christ is superficial.  It may not stand the test of time or the rigor of unforeseen trials.

21 Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”

Without going into detail, we can see that he is asking for a delay.  Maybe it would be weeks or months, maybe a year or more.  Here are some thoughts from Billy Graham.  The man grasps  that following Christ involves sacrifice, but it is a sacrifice that he is unwilling to make.  Unlike the overzealous scribe, this man is underzealous or too cold.  

A Goldilocks response to Jesus needs to be carefully thought through rather than hasty.  But it also needs to be willing to give whatever is necessary for the cause of Christ.  This world is not our home anyway, so with that in mind, why wait?  A true and thorough cost-counting will reveal that Jesus is worth more than anything or anyone that we might decide to place before him.