GOD WITH US:
Walking with Jesus
A Devotional Guide
Matthew 7:28 – 8:4
Matt. 7:28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.
Matt. 8:1 When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. 2 And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 3 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”
~ Read Isaiah 6:1-7 ~
This is a very popular section of Scripture. Many of us can remember stories about this vision that Isaiah has. Isaiah is in the temple for this vision and finds himself in the heavenly presence of God Himself. Could you imagine having this experience. Isaiah’s reaction is very appropriate. He is scared! The place where he is standing starts shaking and then he finds himself standing before the throne of God. Pay close attention to what Isaiah says when he realizes that he is in the presence of God. He speaks about being a man “of unclean lips” and being among a people “of unclean lips”. What does unclean lips have to do with anything? This was Isaiah’s way of referencing “leprosy”. In ancient Israel, skin disease was considered extremely unclean. Those with skin boils, and infection would be deemed unclean by the priest, and required by law to live outside of the camp (read Lev. 13-14 for more info about this law). Most importantly, Lepers were required to put their hand over their upper lip and cry out unclean when they were entering the presence of anyone (this is what Isaiah is doing). This was to protect the clean people from becoming unclean. But what we see in this text is a foreshadowing of what we see Christ do for all who place their faith in them. The goodness/holiness of God (the coal) reaches out and touches the unclean lips of Isaiah (leprosy), and instead of the coal becoming unclean, it rather overpowers uncleanliness with cleanliness and holiness. Amazing!
Talk it out:
1. How would you respond if you found yourself standing in front of the creator of the heavens and earth?
2. How does this impact the way you worship at church?
3. What do you think the seraphim meant by what he told Isaiah at the end of vs. 7?
~ Read Matthew 8:5-13 ~
This text directly follows the text from our sermon this past week. We see another one of the “outsiders” here being drawn to faith in Jesus Christ. This man was not an outsider because of some unfortunate infection or skin disease that was considered leprosy. But instead, this man was an outsider because he was a gentile. I know that sounds silly, but gentiles were considered to be “unclean” in regards to the Law. Not just any gentile, but he was a Roman soldier who were the ones who were actively oppressing God’s people. The authority of Jesus is highlighted in this text. Notice how the soldiers experience with authority describes Jesus’ authority over sickness. Jesus once again draws in the outsider to faith in the true authority of the king.
Talk it out:
1. In your own words, describe why you think Jesus was so impressed with the centurion’s faith?
2. In contrast to this past week’s sermon where Jesus shows his power over sickness by touching the leper, how does Jesus execute his power here?
3. What does this narrative communicate to us about the power, authority, grace, and mercy of Christ? How does it impact the way you approach him in worship?
~ Read Psalm 107:33-43 ~
This is a powerful psalm. I would encourage you to take the time to read the whole thing. This psalm offers praise to God for his powerful rule. The things that are important to God and how he will protect them and raise them high, really captures the push of Matthew in chapter 8-9. Jesus steps off of the mountain and enters the valley (where the people are) and displays the power of the Divine King. All praise and honor are worthy to be given to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Verses 33-43 speak specifically about the provisions of those who live their lives in the “steadfast love” of God. This is descriptive of “God-Rule”, or “God with us”. Those who place their faith in the love of God through His son Jesus Christ, can expect great things from the only true king!
Talk it out:
1. Take some time to contemplate who is ruling your life? Is it you? Or is it Jesus?
2. When you read a psalm like this, can you describe the emotion you feel? i.e. joy, comfort, fear, hope, etc.… Why do you think you feel that way?
3. What does this mean for the way you live your life? Or maybe a better question is, does this describe Jesus’ rule over your heart? Why? Or why not?
~ Read Matthew 8:14-17 ~
This passage draws the circle a bit closer. What do I mean? Well the leper at the beginning was the most extreme outcast of the group. Lepers weren’t even allowed to walk among the Jews. The centurion was able to walk within the community, but not as part of the covenant people. This passage speaks of Peter’s mother-in-law who was a part of the covenant community, but as a woman in the first century, she was not allowed full access. So, it may be a stretch to call her an outcast, but I think that may be Matthew’s intent. By the time we reach this passage we are starting to develop a clear picture of what kind of people have access to and will experience the power and authority of King Jesus as he rules His kingdom.
Notice how this passage immediately begins to open up the popularity of Jesus among those who need help. This is the great promise of the Gospel. Those who need to be healed, both internally and externally should be brought to the feet of Jesus and seek His will.
Talk it out:
1. Look in the text and discuss how Peter’s mother-in-law responds to the miraculous healing touch of Jesus?
2. Do you think people are being brought to Jesus because they recognize that he is the Son of God? Or do you think they are simply drawn by the immense need that can be potentially filled? How does this (or should this) inform the way we bring people to Christ?
3. Can you find the text from Isaiah that is quoted at the end of this section?
~ Read Isaiah 53:1-6 ~
This is the text from which Matthew pulls his quote. If you cheated on yesterday’s last question by looking at today’s text, well shame on you 😊. This text is one of the most powerful proclamations of the coming messiah. Isaiah is trying to tell the Israelites that there is future hope after punishment. That one will come who is divine (Isa 9) and will take our punishment and shepherd us into the powerful rest of God. For Isaiah, he saw that one-day God’s kingdom would look different, extremely different from the kingdoms of men. God’s kingdom would be a visual representation of God’s heart. That kingdom would be one that restores, makes whole, gives life. Its motivation would be love not prosperity. It’s power and dominion would be a gift from God, connected to God, not conquest and destruction. This, of course, ultimately points to the final coming of the kingdom at the end (Rev. 21), but as the King of that kingdom comes off the mountain and begins to walk and love His people (in Matt. 8-9), we can see how this hope that Isaiah proclaimed so long ago is firmly fulfilled within the person of Jesus Christ.
Talk it out:
1. Which verse of Isaiah 53 does Matthew use as a quote? Can you restate in your own word’s why Matthew would use this quote in this section?
2. As you read through today’s text, what are some other things from this prophecy that are fulfilled by Jesus later in his ministry and life? List them if you can.
3. Verse 6 is a central piece to the good news. How does this imagery of a suffering servant support or contrast the image of Matthew’s king?