Matthew 9

Matthew 9: The Anchor that Holds

As chapter 8 ended, we see Jesus casting the demons out of two men who are possessed by them. The demons are driven out of the men into the pigs. When the citizens of the town heard this report, they went out and pleaded with Jesus to leave.

Jesus will not stay where he is not wanted.

Chapter 9 begins by telling us ‘Jesus got into a boat and crossed over to his own town’. This would be Capernaum where he now resided.  There Matthew records  the healing of a paralytic man whose story is also recorded in Mark. Mark gives us more details regarding this occurrence.

In Mark 2 we read how many people upon learning Jesus had come home resulted in a crowd gathering at his house: ‘ and straightway many gathered together in so much there was no room left, not even outside the door, and Jesus preached a word to them. Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four men. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic , “ Son, your sins are forgiven.” ( What a great illustration of intercessory prayer- when we carry other to Jesus in prayer.)

I can only come to the conclusion, ‘their faith’ refers to not only the four friends carrying him, but the paralyzed man also.  Once again we see faith causing people to take action.  Are you beginning to sense what happens when real faith ignites people?  What is real faith?  Let’s look at these instances in this chapter.

First, before we look at these events, let us remember what the Lord told us about our enemy.  “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy….” He is called a thief and the thief always wants to steal what is of value.   How does a person get saved?  “ For it is by grace through faith you have been saved- and that not of yourselves it is a gift of God- not of works, lest any man should boast.” ( Ephesians 2:8,9)   Faith is how we receive the saving grace of God, it is a gift from Him.  Also in his letter to the church at Colosse Paul writes:  “ So just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to walk (live,NIV) in Him.” ( Col. 2:6)  How did we receive Him?  By grace through faith. Then that is how we are to live our lives- by grace through faith. The same way the Israelites got out of Egypt, would the same way that got into the promised land. The Christian life is a ‘by grace through faith’ operation from beginning to end. Now do you see why it is so valuable?  This is why the enemy, the thief wants to steal your faith.

In fact Peter also warns us : “ In this greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, you may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trial. These have come so that your faith-of greater value than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire- may be proved genuine and may result in praise, honor and glory when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (I Peter 1)

Now you understand why the enemy wants to steal your faith? It is the supply line from which comes the power and resources of God Almighty.  Cut off the line of supply and the enemy can defeat its foe. It is also more valuable than gold.

Did you notice what Peter said was one of the purposes of our trials and suffering?  It is so our faith can have the dross removed, refined and may be proved – genuine. Genuine faith- real faith.

The enemy will raise up barriers, he will send storms into your life and lives of your loved ones. What does one do in a storm at sea?  Head for the deep water and drop anchor.   “ We have this  hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.” ( Hebrews 6:19)

Now let us look at these instances of faith and how faith deals with the barriers and the attempts of the enemy to steal what God has given us that is of value greater than gold- our faith.

The four men carrying their paralyzed friend came to a barrier.  As is often the case-the barrier we face is other people.  There is a crowd, both outside and inside. You can imagine them carrying this man on a mat and trying to get through a crowd – only to told repeatedly- you can’t get in there. There is no way.  But He can make a way – where there is no way. Inside, we will also see there are the religious leaders, the Pharisees who are there to check out this man called Jesus. (Sometimes it is religion and the hypocrites who would keep one from coming to Jesus.) These men found a way  to get up on the roof by an outside staircase, which houses had in order to repair their flat roofs.  The roof itself was a combination of  hardened clay over branches and beams.  The men evidently dug their way through these layers to create an opening and lower their friend down to Jesus.  You can imagine the surprise, when debris began to fall from the ceiling down on the crowd inside the house. Mark 2 tells us:  “ When Jesus saw their faith…”  How can you see something that is  invisible?  You see the result of a genuine faith, a real faith, because it is a faith that works.  These four men were sweating from the exertions of carrying their friend, and of taking apart a roof, then lowering him into the midst.  James would nod his head and say- see- show me your faith without works, and I will show you my faith by what I do.’

Now we are not saved by works. We are saved by grace through faith – and that a gift from God, not of works, lest any man should boast.  But Paul was quick to add after those two verses in Ephesians 2- ‘ but we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has ordained for us to walk in.’   James says ; “ What good is it if a man says he has faith, but has no deeds.’ Key word: says ( claims, NIV)   What we believe- should change our behavior.   A faith that works is a genuine faith.

Even Paul would agree with this as the verses in Ephesians 2: 8-10.  Salvation is not of works. This was what had happened to the Jews in this time.  You had to be circumcised, you had to follow the dietary laws, and all of the 600 man-made laws in order to obtain salvation.

But after you are saved a genuine faith results in works. Paul said examine yourself to see if you are in the faith. (2 Corinthians 13) : “ Examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.”

Hebrews 11: 1 defines faith. It is a simple definition:  “ Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see.”

It is a simple faith. A child-like faith. When you were a child, did  you not believe your parents could solve any problems, answer any question?  Of course we did.

Real faith trusst in God , not self.  And real faith works.

So examine yourself. Use the Word of God and stories of faith in action to see how you are doing.

Prove it. How?  Are you bearing fruit? James said faith without works is dead.

Do you know that you know that you know you belong to Jesus?   The enemy will attempt to confuse you. If he confuses you, he can create doubt and fear, which are the enemies of faith and the weapons the enemy uses.

If a person arrives at the emergency room with a head injury but is conscious. The medical team will ask them the following questions:

Do you know who you are?  Do you know where you are? Do you know what time it is? Do you know what happened?   Let me ask you as  a Christian do you sometimes forget who you are? Do you forget where you are and what time it is and what has happened or is happening?  Be alert and vigilant- for the enemy is seeking to destroy your faith.

The next two occurrences come simultaneously.  A woman with an issue of blood is attempting to get to Jesus. But at the same time, another man who is more important and has a more serious situation is approaching Jesus. In addition to those circumstances, there is a huge crowd around Jesus.  Again, Mark gives us some details of this event.  This woman with the issue of blood and for 12 years she had pursued healing.  Mark writes: “ She had suffered a great  deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all that she had, yet instead of getting better – she grew worse.” Twelve years of seeing one doctor after another. Spending all the money she had. And things had not improved- they had in fact gotten worse.   Now if that is not enough, by Jewish law, since she has an issue of blood, she is considered unclean and cannot come in human contact with another. She is in a seemingly impossible situation.  Might as well throw in the towel – give up, you tried, just not in the cards, right?   She had heard about Jesus. She had heard the stories of his healing the sick. With great resolve she set out to get to him, through the crowd and to touch his cloak. This was her only hope. He has healed others, why would he not heal me. I know he is able to do it. Therefore she set out on mission to draw near to him. She believed : ‘ if she could touch the cloak she would be made whole.’ ( Mark 5)    Do you see the barriers she had to deal with-the disappointments she had suffered through- there was no one who could help her- but the Lord Jesus.   Interesting that when she touched his robe, she was immediately healed.   “ At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned to the crowd and asked, ‘ who touched me?”

Has Jesus touched you?  ‘ He touched me, Oh He touched me! And oh the joy that floods my soul! Something happened, and I know- He touched me and made me whole!”   This woman had a faith a simple faith that believed she could be healed by the Master by just touching his robe.  Luke who was a physician records this account and states the facts:  ‘A woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for 12 years and no one could heal her.’ Is anything to hard for God?  No.

Why did Jesus ask who touched him?  Did he not know?  Of course he knew. He wanted her to reveal her situation so the miracle would be made known.  He is the Great Physician. He came to heal the sick.  Hope in Jesus was her anchor. Hope in Him was all she had and it was all she needed.  It is all we need- the anchor will hold.

At the same time this is happening a man named Jairus, a synagogue ruler comes to Jesus, kneeling before him and asking him to come to his house where his daughter has just died. This is a situation described in Romans 4, where Abraham – ‘ against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations..’ Abraham’s situation was he was 100 years old and Sarah was 90. His body was as good as dead and Sarah’s womb was also dead.

We can imagine how desperate Jairus was- this was his 12 year old daughter. He put his hope in Jesus. “ My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.  When they arrived at his home, the mourners told him not to bother Jesus any more.  Jesus ignored them and said to Jairus: “ Don’t be afraid. Only believe.”   Jesus raised the little girl from the dead.  The hope that comes from human reasoning- comes to a place it cannot no longer hope. Abraham was against that type of hope, but chose as Jairus did to place his hope in Jesus, the anchor that holds in storms no matter how fierce the wind blows. (Romans 5 tells us this is a hope that does not disappoint. It is a confident expectation.

Next we see the two blind men who came to Jesus calling out, “ Have mercy on us, Son of David.”   Do you know where to go to obtain mercy?  You enter the throne room of grace where we may obtain mercy and grace to help in time of need.   That is where our anchor is today. “ We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the sanctuary behind the curtain where Jesus,who went before us, has entered on our behalf.” ( Hebrews 6)

“ When he (Jesus) had gone indoors, the blind men came to him and Jesus asked them, “ Do you believe that I am able to do this? “ Yes, Lord, they replied. Then he touched their eyes and said according to your faith it will be done to you and their sight was restored.” ( Matthew 9:27-30)

Do you believe God is able?  Do you believe He is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do?

But wait a minute, what if because of the situation – because of the circumstances, I have trouble believing?    The story in Mark 9 tells of a situation just like yours maybe.  A man has a son, who had a severe problem since childhood. Convulsions, rolling on the ground, foaming at the mouth. In fact, Jesus’ disciples had not been able to help him.   Now you understand this man’s situation – he has been disappointed before by attempts to heal his son. He does not want to get his hopes up to high- for the higher your hopes are- the greater and deeper are the disappointments. The Lord gives this man reason for hope: “Everything is possible for him who believes.” ( Mark 9:23)   The father wants desperately to believe the Lord, and tells him: I believe-  help me overcome my unbelief.’    His son was healed.  Look at the prayer of this desperate father. He believed, but it was mixed with unbelief.  He had seen his hopes for healing not realized before and he wanted to believe his son could be healed, but the doubts crept in because of the failures of the past.  But his prayer was answered. Therefore, this prayer must have been in the will of God.  Help me overcome my unbelief.

Remember what we can obtain at the throne of grace?  Mercy and grace to help in time of need.  Do like this man- profess you believe, but confess you also have unbelief. Maybe you believe He can do these things- but you are not sure the Lord will do them for you.  Remember what Jesus said to encourage this man, and let it encourage you.   Jesus said: “all things are possible to him who believes.(KJV) everything is possible to him who believes.(NIV)  Then like this man- tell the Lord you believe, and ask the Lord to help you overcome your unbelief. Admit the weakness of your faith.  For in weakness, His strength is made perfect.

Now perhaps you have come today to church to hear a word from God.  Here it is:  “ ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE TO HIM WHO BELIEVES.”

You may have been in a battle all week, or for several weeks or for several years. These stories of faith were written for our examples that we might be encouraged. Perhaps the battle has made you weary- you have been hit up against the side of your head and we need to check you out in the emergency room before the Great Physician  sees you.

Do you know who you are?

Do you know where you are?

Do you know what time it is?

Do you know what has happened?

Who are you?  A child of God, adopted, a joint heir, accepted in the beloved and fully loved. You are also a royal priest, and soldier in the army of God.

Where are you? In a battle. In a war, where we must be alert and vigilant.

Do know what time it is?  It time, past time to get serious. Time to put on the whole armor and stand against the wiles of the enemy- we are under attack.

Do you what has happened?  Yes. The enemy has stolen something precious from us. He is attacking our supply line. A supply line that gives us access to the weapons that are mighty, not carnal for  the pulling down of strongholds.  Do realize what that attack is on?  Yes. My faith.

For we are to walk by faith and not by sight. We are in a battle for our life.

“ We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned, struck down, but not destroyed. “  ( 2 Cor. 4)  Sound like your life right now?

Then keep reading:

“ Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

That is how we get through- we ask God to help our unbelief.  He will.  We ask that He open the eyes our heart, our understanding so we can see beyond the temporary to the unseen eternal. He will do that for you and me.

Here are three eternal truths for us:  things are not what they seem; we are in a battle; and we each have a role to play.

Interesting in the encounter the Resurrected Lord had with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus  in Luke 24.  They did not recognize the Lord Jesus and they were also in a state of confusion over what had happened.  Listen to what they said: “ …we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” Human hope based on human reasoning runs out where reason does. We must hope against such type of hope- we must anchor our hope in the Lord Jesus, Our High Priest.

Jesus said to them:  “ How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” And then Jesus began to open the Word of God and explain it to them.

“ Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and then he disappeared. And they asked one another – ‘ were not our hearts burning within us, while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures. “ Luke 24.

Do you have a burning heart this morning? A heart that is longing to be all that God created you and saved you to be?  How do we get burning hearts?  By spending time with the Lord in his word. Stop living as if you are defeated by sin and the storms of life.

Sail out into the deep water.  Cast your anchor in Him. The anchor holds.

Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14