Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Matthew 8: Saved from Sickness, Spirits and Sinking


Matt 8:16-34 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: "He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases"...   
Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!" He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!" 

When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. "What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted. "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?" Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, "If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs." He said to them, "Go!" So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.

When we say that Jesus is our Saviour, we don't just mean that He will save us from the future problem of Hell in order to get us into Heaven (though thank God that's true). But we also mean he saves us from our present predicament caused by sin and Satan: viz., sicknesses, spirits and the sinking experience.
  • Sicknesses: In our part of the world, the sick don't just visit the clinics. They also visit the temples to seek healing, for our worldview allows for the unseen realm of angels, spirits and demons. This is consistent with the biblical worldview. In fact, Matthew 8:17 tells us that Jesus healed the sick in order to "fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: "He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases." This is quoted from Isaiah 53:4, which in the context spoke of Christ as the atoning sacrifice, not only for our sins but also our sicknesses. In other words, Jesus came not only to save "souls" but also save bodies (infirmities and diseases).
  • Spirits: Jesus also came to save us from demons: "When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick" (Matt 8:16). In the biblical worldview, sicknesses and spirits are closely related. This is not just some pre-scientific explanation of medical conditions. The Bible is stating what western medical science has rejected, viz., that there is a non-physical reality that impinges on our physical reality which cannot be detected by the stethoscope, nor even by the state-of-art MRI. This spiritual worldview is consistent with what we have encountered in our ministry when we dealt with "normal" people who manifested strange and bizzare behaviour in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Demons can cause severe personality disorders, as documented in Matthew 8:28-33. Here were two men living among the tombs and were completely possessed by demons who acknowledged Jesus' authority as Son of God: "What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted. "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?" (v.29).
  • Sinking: Of course, Jesus does not only save us from physical and spiritual problems. He also saves us from personal ones--that of a sinking boat caused by storms of life. The boat can mean different things to different people. It could be our family or business or just our personal life. But we feel that these boats are sinking because of the storms of life we're encountering. No one is free from life's storms, but the Good News is that Jesus Christ came to save us also from sinking in the midst of these storms. I have embedded below the testimony of local actor Li Nan Xing, how Jesus delivered him from his sinking business, career and personal finances. 
So, what kind of Jesus do you believe in? Is he just a great moral teacher, or just a psychological crutch to provide you with some emotional and psychological boost on Sunday? Or is He the real Saviour described in the Gospel--the One who can heal our sick bodies, set us free from evil spirits and deliver us out of our personal problems? 

If you have not experience this Saviour, you can do so now. Watch Li Nan Xing's testimony and you'll understand what this Saviour is like! Jesus is the same yesterday (in the Gospels), today  and forever! Amen.


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