Daily Reflections June 28, 2017
As I reflect on Isaiah, I’m reminded of how important it is that we constantly encourage one another to look beyond our present circumstances. Here is a prophet who encouraged his people to look beyond the Assyrian invasion to God’s deliverance. He then directed them to look beyond the Babylonian captivity to God’s rescue through Cyrus. He then pointed even further to a coming, suffering servant who would atone for the sin of God’s people. And now, finally, he introduces the beautiful conclusion! A day is coming when:
Your people shall all be righteous;
they shall possess the land forever,
the branch of my planting, the work of my hands,
that I might be glorified. (Isaiah 60:21 ESV)
This is a glimpse into the new heavens and the new earth (Rev. 21), where God will reign over His people with perfect justice and compassion. Under His rule there will be no more death. There will be no more darkness. There will be no more injustice or sickness because finally there will be no more sin! God’s people will all be righteous!
Unfortunately, we are all prone to be short sighted. Isaiah constantly had to force his people to look beyond their present circumstances. Shameful as this truth is, we have much in common with those Israelites. The problems of today so often look like insurmountable mountains. They deplete our joy, exhaust our faith and keep us in a state of fearfulness. We constantly need the Word of God, as it is read privately and preached publicly, to direct our attention to the finish line. Stressful weeks at work, rebellious children and even sickness and disease all tend to look very small when we look at the eternal glory that is waiting for us.
With that in mind, we need to ensure that our proclamation of the Gospel tells the full story of what God has done in Christ to save us. Yes, Jesus’ life, death and resurrection has secured for us a right relationship with God. And yes, through Christ we have forgiveness of sins and a cleansed conscience. But we can’t stop there because the news is better still! By grace, through faith in Christ, we are co-heirs with Him of the New Heavens and the New Earth. We are going to spend an eternity in a place where we will no longer need the sun and the moon because God Himself will be our light (Isa. 60:19)! On that day:
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:4 ESV)
This is our hope: We will spend an eternity glorifying our perfect Heavenly Father and we will enjoy Him forever! This is the hope that Isaiah put before his people, and as they needed it then so too do we need it now. It is a hope that sees beyond persecution, and beyond cancer. This hope is not deterred by earthly obstacles because it’s fulfillment is not ultimately found in this world.
God, please keep us in your peace, and fix our eyes on the hope of glory.
Assistant Pastor Levi denBok
Each Gospel writer has a different emphasis. Matthew was a Jew, writing to Jews with the defense that Jesus is the powerful Messiah who was prophesied in the Old Testament. Jesus can fix what is broken in the world and what is broken in us. Do you believe that? This chapter challenges us to put our complete trust in the Lord and watch what he will do.
Matthew's first extended healing miracle concerns the restoration of a desperate leper (see Leviticus 13:45). This leper demonstrates faith in the power of Jesus. He knows Jesus is able to make him clean, if he wills it. Praise God, Jesus was willing; he touched the leper and healed him! Martyn-Lloyd Jones explains, “Leprosy in the Old Testament, and in the New, ever stands as a kind of sin, an illustration of sin.” 1 Jesus has compassion upon sinners. He is the great physician come to heal the sin sickness of our soul.
Matthew's second healing miracle is about the Centurion’s servant. In Capernaum, Jesus responds to the great and insightful faith of a Roman officer who implores Jesus to heal his servant. Once again, Jesus demonstrates compassion and heals this servant with his word. He is the powerful Creator who spoke the world into existence and who speaks healing into our bodies.
Matthew's third healing miracle sequence concerns Peter’s mother-in-law and many others in Capernaum. Without being asked, Jesus had compassion on this woman and healed her with his touch. Fevers, diseases and demons leave at the touch and command of Jesus. He is the King who has all authority. He is the Suffering Servant who has “borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4).
What Can We Learn From This Chapter?
Matthew writes to show us that Jesus brings outsiders into his Kingdom. In Jesus’ day, lepers were social outcasts; Centurions were Roman enemies; Women were seen as second-class citizens. However, broken and enslaved human beings have tremendous worth in the eyes of God. We, who were once far off, estranged and without hope, have been brought near as God’s adopted sons and daughters.
Matthew writes to tell us Jesus comes to set the captives free. He took on flesh to destroy the devil and his works. We, who were once enslaved by idols and ungodly passions, have been delivered and have become servants of God.
Matthew writes to teach us Jesus is with us “in the boat.” He is sovereign over the storms of life. We never have to doubt the Lord’s intimate knowledge of our circumstances. We, who once tried feverishly to be the master of our fate, the captain of our soul, now surrender to the Creator of the wind and waves. We don’t need to fear the storms, but rather fear the Lord, who loves us and is above the storm.
The Lord Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He heals and he delivers and he calms the storms. This same Jesus calls us to recognize his authority, trust him, follow him (verse 22) and honour him with believing faith.
Let’s declare with Charles Wesley,
He breaks the power of cancelled sin, He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean, His blood availed for me.
When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. (Matthew 8:10 ESV)
Associate Pastor Jody Cross
1 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Old Testament Evangelistic Sermons (Edinburgh. Banner of Truth Trust, 1995), p. 114.