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A Bold Encounter



A Bold Encounter

J.C. Thompson |

This week we'll look at a man's boldness in his encounter with Christ. He's met with a bolder response by Jesus.






Encounters with Christ
Message 3 • A Bold Encounter
J.C. Thompson
August 1, 2021

Introduction:

  1. Today we continue our series entitled, “Encounters with Christ”
  2. We will be discussing today a story that comes from the book of Matthew, chapter 8.
  3. Jesus had just completed the Sermon on the Mount, His teaching on what life in the Kingdom of God looks like.
  4. The crowds were amazed by His teaching. They compared His teaching with the teaching of the scribes. They said that Jesus’ teaching came from One who has authority.
  5. Jesus had just shown His authority through His explanation and application of the Law of Moses and now He would show His authority over the earth and all that it contains by performing miracles of healing.
  6. I’ve titled today’s message A Bold Encounter, both from the perspective of a man’s approach to Jesus and Jesus’ response to the man.

A Bold Encounter with Christ includes…

1. My appeal to Christ (Matthew 8:1-2. C/R: Hebrews 4:16)

  1. Matthew 8:1-2 (NLT) - Large crowds followed Jesus as He came down the mountainside. 2 Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached Him and knelt before Him. “Lord,” the man said, “if You are willing, You can heal me and make me clean.”
  2. This leper more than likely was listening to Jesus teach the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.
  3. For a leper to approach a man would have been an incredibly bold and could be perceived as insensitive or foolish.
  4. Priests were on record as throwing rocks at men afflicted with leprosy.
  5. While the Greek word for leper would have meant scaly, this was the way that the Bible described most ancient diseases by their outward manifestations, this disease plagued the nervous system.
  6. Essentially it would deaden the body’s system to alert you to pain and sensation.
  7. So the scales and wounds would come from a lack of warning from the body that something hurts.
  8. The Law of Moses also gave ways for the priests to make sure it was leprosy and keep it from infecting the rest of the people.
  9. If you were confirmed with leprosy, you would have to isolate yourself from everyone except for other lepers and announce to everyone that you were unclean.
  10. In spite of his condition and society’s approach to his condition, this man approaches Christ in a way that we should emulate.
  11. First this man with leprosy approaches Christ with confidence in spite of his unclean status.
  12. Second, he approaches with worship as he falls prostrate before Jesus, calling Him Lord.
  13. Third, he approached with humility, “If you are willing”
  14. Fourth he expresses faith in Christ’s ability to heal him physically “You can heal me”
  15. Lastly, this man expresses Christ’s power over his identity, “make me clean.”
    This is a model for us to approach Jesus in the same way in our prayers and requests.
  16. For some a struggle with Christ might be your ability to approach Him with boldness.
  17. Hebrews 4:16 (NLT) - So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.
  18. Our boldness should come from our understanding of how gracious God is rather than a pride of ability to earn something from Him.
  19. Others might doubt God’s power to do something. While some might expectGod to bend to their own desires rather than recognizing His authority. 
  20. This man made his appeal to God in a way that exercised his faith in a bold and audacious way, while humbling submitting to the only One who had the power to make him clean.
  21. APP: What is your issue with God that you should bring to Him? What aspect of this man’s approach to Christ should you follow?
2. Christ’s answer to me (Matthew 8:3. C/R: Matthew 7:11)

  1. Matthew 8:3a (NLT) - Jesus reached out and touched him.
  2. Jesus matches this man’s bold appeal for complete cleansing by touching the man afflicted by leprosy.
  3. This would have been shocking to anyone observing this moment.
  4. Jesus, the man who taught with such authority, just touched a man afflicted by leprosy.
  5. Jesus was not only concerned with his request and his diseased state, He was concerned about his biggest need, a lack of love and acceptance from others.
  6. A man that would have been told he was unclean, would have announced it in getting close to others and most likely would have lived in isolation, was touched by God Himself.
  7. This also may have been the first touch this man would have felt physically since being afflicted with leprosy, a disease that anesthetizes the nervous system.
  8. Dr. Jon Reeves, clinical psychologist from Washington says, “Touch is our first language and one of our core needs. The touch of a safe, trusted loved one can alleviate anxiety and promote a sense of well-being without doing anything else.”
  9. There is even research to suggest that our skin contains receptors that elicit emotional responses.
  10. So not only did this man not feel pain, but he also did not feel with his skin the loving touch of a family member or friend.
  11. This would have been the first time that this man’s skin would have felt love since stricken with leprosy.
  12. APP: What message do you think is sent to your children, your spouse, your family and friends, when you give them a kind, appropriate touch? A pat on the back, a squeeze of the hand, a gentle hug, a high five. I see you, I care about you, I value you, and I love you. What message would you feel? 
  13. Matthew 8:3b (NLT) - “I am willing,” He said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.
  14. Jesus not only touched this unclean man, but expressed His desire to heal him and did so.
  15. The word used in the Greek, Kath-ar-id-zo, is more closely translated be clean or to have all things intermixed taken out. This phrasing would have not only spoken to the physical healing this man desired but also his status as someone rendered by the Law as unclean. Jesus would have taken this disease out of his body to make it clean and pure of any defilement.
  16. Jesus heals his physical affliction. From “Unclean” and stricken with leprosy, to healed from leprosy and “Clean”.
  17. Jesus gives him a new identity, just as he does when we become regenerated.
  18. Jesus by healing this man completely from his nervous system issue, is now pronouncing him able to go back into society and participate as a clean person again.
  19. But not only did Jesus heal him, but He also did not become unclean by doing so.
  20. When it comes to our boldness of request to God, God might meet us just as boldly. We come with our boldness, but God does not run out of generosity or power. Jesus cleansing an unclean man with a touch, shows us that.
  21. Do you doubt God’s power in your overwhelming situation? Do you believe there is enough grace for you?
  22. Matthew 7:11 (NLT) - “So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.”
  23. APP: Do you doubt God’s goodness based on a great need you have in your own life? Ask God for a good gift today.
3.Affirmation from God’s Word (Matthew 8:4. C/R: Leviticus 13-14)

  1. Matthew 8:4 (NLT) - 4 Then Jesus said to him, “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the Law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”
  2. Jesus after healing this man afflicted with leprosy tells him not to tell anyone about this healing.
  3. It begs the question, why would Jesus do this? Jesus is the Messiah according to God, not according to worldly wisdom.
  4. I believe that Jesus does not want to stir up a following too soon, jeopardizing His real mission, to be betrayed, die and be resurrected for the sins of the world.
  5. It seems to me that Jesus also does not want to attract followers that only want Him for His ability to perform miracles, so He asks the man to not tell anyone publicly.
  6. Instead, He directs him to follow the Law that is given in Leviticus 14 on how to restore someone healed by leprosy.
  7. Remember that this story occurs directly after Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount”, where Jesus lays into the Jewish religious leaders by unfolding the Law to make it plain, which directly came against many of their interpretations designed to benefit them in some way.
  8. Jesus displays that He is not throwing out the Law, as some might suggest, but instead desires to keep it to both the letter and the intent.
  9. While this man’s scales immediately being taken away from his entire body might have been enough physical confirmation, Jesus desired to fulfill the law by having a priest, trained in verifying and pronouncing someone healed from this disease, confirm this man’s new status among society.
  10. It is important for us, having a need met by God, to not only share the testimony of our deliverance from God with others, but to understand that this gift comes from God and God alone.
  11. The importance of purity cannot be understated. The Psalms are explicit that those with clean hands and a pure heart are the only ones who will stand with God forever. (Psalm 2, 18, 26, 51).
  12. Jesus not only cleansed this man’s hands, but also his heart and then sent him to the priest to be included with the people of God again.
  13. While the focus of this story is on the man’s healing, one has to wonder how the priest that would have received this man would have accepted this miracle.
  14. This is also important to understand that the very people who would have had so many issues with Jesus, also would have officially corroborated the story of this man’s miraculous healing. Perhaps another reason that Jesus urged this man to tell no one.
  15. Jesus immediately gives this man a command to obey, it is the same with us.After becoming a follower of Christ, we are to immediately, completely and forever obey the Word of God. 
  16. The miracle of our salvation results in obedience and compliance with the Word of God.
  17. APP: What is the miracle that you need from God today? Is it a loved one’s healing, your salvation?
  18. While we trust that healing will come in the next life, it is possible that we might receive our requests from God today.
  19. Some of you might already have a testimony, but are you sharing it? God gives us great gifts, and one of the gifts that we can share is our story of God’s working in our life.
  20. Our testimony is not only used by God to bring others to faith, but to build up the family of God.
  21. Find a way to share your story today.
  22. Let’s pray.

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