GOD WITH US:
Walking with Jesus
Matthew 8:28 – 34
Matt. 8:28 And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. 29 And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” 30 Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. 31 And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” 32 And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. 33 The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.
~ Read Ephesians 6:10-13 ~
This passage is a stark reminder that we are not up against the world that we can see. But rather, we are facing spiritual forces that we cannot see. This adds a whole other level to the way we think and perceive life. As we finished Matt. 8 last week, we realized that Jesus spoke authoritatively about the spiritual realm. We can take this info and get a little crazy with it, or we can understand and receive the caution that Christ is giving us. We are to understand that things are far more than they seem. At some point the Christian must understand, from the teaching of Scripture, that spiritual battle is real. This doesn’t necessarily mean that ghosts are floating around the grave yard, but what it does mean is that we must be aware that our preparation and labors for the sake of the Gospel are often hard because of more than unfortunate circumstances. We have a real enemy. There are real spiritual forces that stand in opposition to God’s work and Glory on this earth. When we prepare to do the Work of the Lord, we must prepare appropriately. If you read a little further in this text, you will understand why Paul talks about the “armor of God”.
Talk it out:
1. Read vs. 12 one more time. Talk about the way Jesus describes the forces we are up against. How does this impact your understanding of the spiritual battle?
2. What is the promise of vs 13? How can you “stand firm” according to this verse?
3. What does it mean to you, knowing that Jesus has authority over all of these “powers” that we are up against? Describe how this impacts your view of Him in worship.
~ Read Matthew 12:22-32 ~
Here is another text in Matthew where we see more demon activity. Jesus works another act of grace and authority, and at this the people were amazed (23). But if you continue to verse 24 you will see that the Pharisees responded by claiming this authority was an evil authority (24). This is very interesting if you think it through. There is never a question about his authority. The question is not, “can Jesus really do these things?”, which is the most popular question today. But, the question is, “by whose authority does Jesus do these things”. Both the people and the Pharisees acknowledge Jesus’ authority over the spiritual realm.
So, two answers are presented… Is it: “Son of David” (23), or is it: “Beelzebul, prince of demons”? I think this is truly the heart of the issue. In the end, no matter how much proof or truth is provided, people will still find a way to say that Jesus is not the Son of David, or more, the Son of God. The true question of our faith is not “does he have the power?”, but “what is the source of that power?” Is Jesus truly the Son of God? Is He God Himself? What questions are you asking?
Talk it out:
1. Read through verses 25-28 one more time and explain Jesus’ argument in your own words.
2. Speculate what you think caused the Pharisees to conclude that Jesus was functioning by the power of Beelzebul.
3. Where would you fall in these two questions? Why?
~ Read Psalm 67:1-5 ~
Here in the middle of the week, it is appropriate for us to read a Psalm of praise. As many of the Psalms do, this one praises God for his glory and power. The true power of Jesus is clearly communicated by Matthew in our current series. Chapter 8 has walked us through the authority of Jesus over the unclean, the outsider, the insider, nature, and in our text from this week’s sermon – the spiritual realm. Matthew, through narrative, sings a psalm of praise to the glory and power of God in Jesus Christ. His hope is that you are drawn to a posture of awe and worship before the mighty Son of God, Jesus.
Let’s take a few minutes to talk about this Psalm. As you would probably guess, I suggest you take the time to read the whole thing. Psalms are beautiful, honest poetry of faithfulness to the Father. Notice the first line of this Psalm. “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah”. There are three actions from God that make up this opening hope. May God be gracious – It is the graciousness of the Father and His Son that has already been fully displayed in history that deserves the height of our praise. Bless us – For those who live in community, specifically in the kingdom community, long for the blessings that come from the righteous rule of a good king. Make his face to shine upon us – This is a Hebrew blessing within itself. The idea is that when God is looking at you (turning his face toward you), you will experience the glow and glory of His good pleasure. These are the very things that those who are in His kingdom will experience.
Talk it out:
1. Do the same thing that I did above in verse 1, with verses 2-3. What do you think these things mean?
2. According to the text, why should the nations sing for joy? Knowing that this is true of Jesus, does it cause you to sing for joy?
3. What does this mean for the way you live your life? Or maybe a better question is, does this describe the praise of your heart in response to Jesus and the Cross? Why? Or why not?
~Read 2 Corinthians 3:12-18~
For all believers, the great hope and promise is transformation. This text speaks of the power of the transformation we experience through the work of Jesus Christ. I love the part of this that says “only through Christ is it (the veil) taken away. As we have been studying in the text of Matthew over the past few months, we have seen Matthew’s bold Christ-centered theological narrative. Matthew’s claim is echoed here in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. Paul claims that Christ is the veil-lifter of all understanding. Both in the old covenant and in the new covenant.
Our promised transformation through the powerful work of Jesus Christ, is directly tied to this veil-lifting that is in Christ (18). Through Christ we are “being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” There is so much to say about this verse. We are being transformed into “glory of the Lord”… I don’t know about you, but I am humbled by this statement.
Talk it out:
1. Read verse 12 again. What do you think Paul is saying here? “such a hope” & “very bold”
2. Read verses 16-17 one more time. What do you think he is getting at in verse 17?
3. Knowing that transformation work is being done in you, since you are in Christ, how does that impact the way you will come to the presence of the Lord this week?
~Read Matthew 9:1-8~
I have heard this text taught a million different ways. The most prominent is to focus on the obstacle breaking faith of the paralytic’s four friends. In verse two, the text does say that “Jesus saw their faith”, then he proceeded to heal the man. Though this is an important observation from this story, we need to be careful about making it the focus of the story. Again, the focus for Matthew is all about the Christ-elevating claim that Jesus has authority to forgive sins. This is a sort of peak to the mountain. Everyone knows that the only one who has the power and authority to forgive sin is God. What is even more awesome is the way the people respond when there was no more logic to argue due to what they saw before them. Verse 7 says that “he rose and went home”. Verse 8 tells us that the “crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.” The people were fearfully driven to glorify God due to what they had seen and experienced.
Talk it out:
1. When was the last time you were fearfully drawn into glorifying God because of his awesomeness right before your eyes?
2. How did the scribes respond to Jesus’ proclamation that “your sins are forgiven”? Speculate why you think they responded this way.
3. Can you explain what it means to you that Jesus has the power and authority to forgive sin and has lovingly chosen to extend that to you through faith in Him?