The American Wisdom Series

Matthew #2517

Jesus and His disciples got along well with real "down to earth" people who were not "phony baloney" religionists.

It is hard to believe that anyone would ask Jesus Christ, the very Son of God, to leave their presence like the Local Pig Growers Association in Gergesenes did our last study. Nevertheless, Christ did as they wished and entered into a ship and went back to His own city.

Matthew 9:1
And He entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into His own city.
Christ is now in Capernaum and we are about to see Messiah use a handicapped man of faith to witness unto unbelieving scribes. To that end, take notice that there is a "behold" in each of the next two verses to draw our close attention to that which is written. The first "behold" concerns those with faith in Christ and the second "behold" concerns those without faith who harbor evil thoughts in their hearts.
[2] And,behold, they brought to Him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.
These folks not only showed they had faith by bringing this paralyzed man (sick of the palsy) lying on a cot, to Jesus Christ, but He already knew what great faith was in their hearts just as verse 4 will document He already knew the evil thoughts of the scribes who were present at this "testimonial" event. You see, the scribes knew that only God can forgive a man's sins but they obviously did not believe that Christ was the Messiah, and Jesus knew it was so in their hearts. Therefore He would use this opportunity as a witness and testimony against their unbelief. Actually, the faith alone of this handicapped one to "be of good cheer" should have been witness enough to these scribes!

And as far as the paralytic man was concerned, when Christ told him to "be of good cheer" because he had received forgiveness for his sins, you can be sure he was indeed joyous over that! How so? Because we know he had "faith" and those who have faith are far more joyous over the spiritual things that pertain to salvation and the promise of eternal life living in an incorruptible body than the things that pertain to the flesh which they know shall surely perish. Therefore his spiritual cleansing made him spiritually whole and for men and women of faith, His grace is not only sufficient for them but something over which to rejoice and give thanks and "be of good cheer".

Now let's see how Christ uses this faithful handicapped person to teach certain of the scribes a spiritual lesson.

[3] And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.
Again, these "certain" scribes did not believe that Christ was the Messiah and since God is the only one who can forgive sins, they reasoned that as a mere man, He was being blasphemous. Of course Christ knew exactly what they were thinking.
[4] And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?
And now for the $64,000 question:
[5] For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?
The one obvious point to this question is that neither would be "easier" for a "man" to say, for a mere man could not do either one! In other words, it would take divine authority, the power of Almighty God, to say either one and make it come to pass, wouldn't it? So if Christ demonstrated that He had the power to tell the paralytic man to "arise and walk" it would document that He had the power to do the other, i.e. to do the more important though unseen of the two which is to forgive him of his sins.
[6] But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith He to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.
Uh oh! The unbelieving scribes now have a problem, don't they? Christ just gave awesome credentials that He was indeed the Son of God in the flesh (the Son of man) and that He did have power on earth to forgive sins.

Note: Christ always raised people up when He healed them. He never knocked them down!

                  [7] And he arose, and departed to his house.

Christ not only healed this man of his infirmity but also gave him the strength to be able to stand up and lift up his bed and walk away, for without it those unused and atrophied muscles would not have gotten the job done.

[8] But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.
This is an interesting statement concerning the multitudes who although they marveled and glorified God and the works of God in giving power unto "a man", they still "saw" Christ as a "man" and not as the Messiah. This is pretty typical of some of the multitudes of Christians today who follow after miracles (even seeming miracles) performed in the sight of men but who remain ignorant of the true Word of God and therefore do not know Him (Mat. 7:23).

Next, Jesus calls a publican, a tax collector of all people, to be His disciple. Imagine that!

[9] And as Jesus passed forth from thence, He saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and He saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed Him.
Remember from our first study that Matthew (called Levi in Mark) means "Gift of God"? It is a fitting name for one of God's elect, a true disciple of Jesus Christ who loves and serves Him by doing His will and serving the brethren. Are you a "Matthew" to those around you? Notice also in this "calling" that there was no pleading nor an "altar call" and that it is was Jesus Christ Himself, the Divine Word of God, who chose Matthew to follow Him. You see, as one of God's elect chosen before the foundation of this world (Eph. 1:4), Matthew instantly recognized the Voice of the True Shepherd and was therefore willing to "forsake all" and follow Christ.
Luke 5:28
And he left all, rose up, and followed Him.
Matthew rose to the occasion and followed Christ as do all of God's elect. Of course Matt's co-workers and his associates were real "sinners" as far as the goody-goody-two-shoe Pharisees were concerned. They (the Pharisees) would put people down just for the mere fact that they weren't "religious" in following after their traditions.
Matthew 9:10
And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples.
Jesus and His disciples got along well with real "down to earth" people who were not "phony baloney" religionists. And you know what? It is much easier to converse with sinners and plant seeds of truth than it is with religious people, such as Christians who are "set in their ways" with the traditions of men and think they are "good" while others who do not meet their standards they consider to be beneath them and unworthy of their association. I'm sure you know the "religious" type. In fact, Luke's account of Christ's words gives us a real good description of how the self-righteous Pharisees looked upon publicans and sinners.
Luke 18:10
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

[11] The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

Wow! The Pharisee is actually thanking God that he is not as other men are, but better than everyone else. "My, my! Aren't we something special on a stick?" The fact is that he is all of those things mentioned, an extortioner, unjust (being displayed right now), and an adulterer in the spiritual sense, i.e. an idolater!
[12] I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
And just look at all my good works, God!
[13] And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
The Pharisee didn't have the time of day for the publican who was honest and humble before God. Good thing our Father did!
[14] I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
And so we have a good picture of Matthew 9:12 coming up... i.e. of the self-righteous (those who think they are whole) and the sinner (those who are sick in need of a physician).
Matthew 9:11
And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
Obviously, these self-important, self-righteous hypocrites wouldn't be caught dead associating with such "low-lifes"! This statement also documents that these Pharisees had no love or compassion (as in mercy) for the spiritual welfare of publicans and sinners. Would seem that these great self-exalted "spiritual leaders" have determined that the salvation of the souls of such publicans and sinners isn't important to God. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! (see Matthew 23:13)

By the way, instead of questioning His disciples (perhaps in hopes of seeing what else they might find to accuse Him of) you would think these Pharisees would have asked Christ directly! Nevertheless, He heard what they asked and gave them a fitting answer.

[12] But when Jesus heard that, He said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
Wow, that's a strong indictment of their hypocrisy, isn't it? Like so many "religious" people today, they think because of their sacrifices, the religious things they do, i.e. their offerings and their faithful church attendance and all the charities and missionaries they support, etc., that they are doing God's will and they are "whole", not like those sinners and publicans! In other words, they believe that they are in good standing with God and that He looks favorably upon them for their "wonderful works". Remember what Christ said about all that in Mat. 7:21-23? The point is, one cannot "repent" unless one knows he or she is a sinner and has need of repentance!

To that end, Jesus now instructs the Pharisees to go study and learn the meaning of the great analogy He just gave them. He refers them to the book of "salvation", which is the Book of Hosea in the Minor Prophets (Hosea means "salvation" in Hebrew), and in fact He even makes their homework easy for them by telling right where to go... no not there... but rather to where it is written "I will have mercy, and not sacrifice" which is found in Hos. 6:6.

[13] But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Our Father in not interested in a bunch of "religious" people doing "religious things" like giving sacrifices and burnt offerings. What He wants is for His children to be loving and merciful, not as the self-righteous Pharisees, and to come to Him in true repentance and love Him.Christ came to call sinners to repentance so if you are too good to follow Him and help call sinners too, then perhaps you are just too good for Jesus Christ.

Here is the passage of Hosea to which Christ referred:

Hosea 6:6
For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
So if you are "playing church" then stop and "get real" and be honest with your Father and begin to study His Word, else how can you know how to follow Him? That's what the apostle Peter said as he closed his second epistle, "Grow in grace (loving kindness, mercy), and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen." (2 Peter 3:18)
[7] But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me.
To "deal treacherously" means to be "unfaithful" as in to break one's vows, i.e. to transgress the (marriage) covenant God made with you. Even this very day, though our people have the Written Words of the Living Word right on their coffee tables or book shelves, they ignore His warnings and the instructions He gave them through the prophets and the apostles and they have allowed themselves to be lulled to sleep and spiritually seduced by that old serpent, the false messiah, even Satan. And their "many" preachers of whom Christ warned them to be wary in Mat. 24 and Mk. 13, lead them right down the path to spiritual death by substituting a "form of worship" for the love and knowledge of His Word.In other words, they do not teach and communicate His Word chapter by chapter and verse by verse but rather substitute the religious traditions of men to which people become accustomed and firmly set in their ways.

We are now going to learn through Christ's simple analogies how incompatible the religious traditions of men are with the pure living truth of God's Word!

First, here is a question presented by John's disciples.

Matthew 9:14
Then came to Him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?
So why didn't Christ's disciples fast like John's students and the Pharisees?
Matthew 9:15
And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.
The chamber of the bride, i.e. the bridechamber, is a joyous place as everyone is happy for the bride. So obviously that cannot possibly be a time of mourning, can it? Neither can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as the apostle John explains. It is also a time of rejoicing greatly.
John 3:29
He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.
The friend of the bridegroom, the best man, goes forth and helps make the preparations for the wedding. John, like the best man and friend of the Bridegroom, helped make the preparations for the Bridegroom's entrance. He was that voice in the wilderness crying "Make ye ready". (Of course God's elect, those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, know that Christ is still with us in Spirit in these last days.)

Now Christ lets us know that you cannot hang on to the old worn-out traditions of men's church systems and simply add some truth here and there and end up with an improvement.

Matthew 9:16
No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.
An old garment that has been worn and washed many times becomes not only thin through loss of material but also having been shrunk to its limit looses all its stretch and elasticity. In other words, there is no give left in it! So if you sew a patch of new (unfulled in Greek) cloth, which means it has not been washed and is therefore unshrunk, to an old garment, the new patch will soon pull away from the older material and the hole will now be "made worse", i.e. made even larger than before.

You see, some religious people have worn their old comfortable traditions for so long that those ways have become just like an old garment. But again, you cannot continue to wear the traditions of men thinking you can just patch up the old garment with a little truth here and there because you will end up with a bigger confusing mess than you started with. No, you must be willing to forsake the old garment and put on the new, which is that gospel armor of Ephesians chapter 6. The bottom line is... It's time for a new coat!

Here's another great analogy showing how the traditions of men and the truth of God's Word do not mix.

[17] Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.
There are two things one needs to know in order to understand this analogy. First, many bottles back then were made of leather or from the skins of goats. As they aged they hardened and became less pliable, as if set in their ways.
G779 askos as-kos'
From the same as G778; a leathern (or skin) bag used as a bottle: - bottle.
Secondly, "new wine" is wine that not ceased the fermentation process which until completed continues to cause expansion. Therefore, if you put "new wine" in old hardened denominations which are not flexible and will not expand with the fermentation, those bottles with burst and you will end up with nothing! Yes, it is unfortunate that so many are that hardened by traditions that they unable to accept new (at least new to them) truth from our Father's Word.

How about you?   Are you willing to learn from the Word of God or will you stick to the traditions of men?

Let us conclude today's study with an excerpt from the introduction to E. W. Bullinger's book, "How to Enjoy the Bible", pg. 6:

"When we come to ask ourselves, and say, "Where did I learn this?" "How did I get this?" "Who taught me this?" it is astonishing to find out how much we have imbibed from man, and from tradition; and not directly and for ourselves from the Word of God.

All that we have learned from our youth up must be tested and proved by the Word of God. Where we find it is true we must learn it over again, from God. And where it will not stand the test of His Word we must be not only content, but thankful to give it up; and receive Divine revelation in the place of man's imagination."

That is some pretty good advice if you don't want end up as an old dried out bottle ready to split and crack when you hear new truth!

To study the Bible is the noblest of all pursuits; to understand it, the highest of all goals.
We pray that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you accomplish both.

The "American Wisdom Series"


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