Reading Mat 8:
81When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him.2And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.”3And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.4And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”
5When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him,6“Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.”7And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.”8But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.
Jesus Heals Many
14And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever.15He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him.16That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick.17This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”
Mission for the world (which one?)
Our God is missionary and has demonstrated it since the creation of the world in many ways.
But He did it in a spectacular, exceptional way by sending his son as a missionary.
If you want to know the mind of God for the mission, just read the gospel.
Jesus acts like his Father, thinks like his Father, dreams like his Father ...;
John 5:19 ... For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
It is for this reason that I chose some excerpts of Matthew 8 which are the first steps of the ministry of Jesus.
Before Mat 8, there is Mat 5-6-7 called the ‘sermon on the mount’, a speech explaining how to be a disciple. This is the first of the five great speeches that structure the Gospel of Matthew.
Then in chapter 10, we have a second speech on the mission and sending on mission.
Between these speeches, we have chapters 8 and 9 of Matthew; they bring together a set of miracles and encounters of Jesus in connection with the discourses of Jesus.
I am convinced that Matthew did not place them at random, but he wanted to explain to us how to be a missionary. In the background of these stories we have, in my opinion, a practical theology textbook of a disciple on mission in this world.
A mission order (underlying the text)
Mat 8.1 When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him
He does not remain on the theological debates, on the principles, he does not stay on the mountain, but with the sermon on the mountain in his pocket, he descends into the arena of this world, and will live his theology in contact with the crowd, in contact with others ...
5 As Jesus entered Capernaum, he does not stay in the country, but goes to the city, where he knows he will meet people.
14 Jesus then went to Peter's house, he does not stay in the crowd but he goes to the people, he goes to visit them, he goes to their homes ...
Jesus is not satisfied with being and waiting for the other to see him, but he is going towards the others. He will summarize his theology of the missionary movement a verb Go ... (Mt 28). We are called to go to our neighbor, called to be visible, identifiable and in contact! Not called to hide behind the walls of the church, but to visit our neighbor in his house.
* Jesus was sent into the world, he came down from his heaven to walk in our cities and visit us in our homes; his goal, the heart of his target: it is man, he came from heaven for people;
* On ascension, he gives us the geographical limits of the mission: start where you are, with your neighbors (in Jerusalem), then spread out in your area (Judea), then go to those who are not from your people but live near you (Samaria) and continue to the ends of the earth (Acts 1.8) Its limit is the world! Do not make a difference between evangelism at home and mission in the distance, our responsibility is global, both local and global.
Order of mission in 3 points: go, mankind as heart of the target and "No limit" in the field of action.
A mission for all!
As he knows that one will misunderstand and be limited to some people, Jesus will speak symbolically to different types of people usually rejected. He presents us with four barriers that could limit our mission:
The barrier of impurity. Mat 8.1 When Jesus came down from the mountain ... v2 A leper came.
The leper is impure by his illness, he can not approach other men. He is also impure for God: he can’t enter into a relationship with God.
I do not know if you can imagine this man declared unclean, pushed to the sides of society. It is obligatory a poor in worthless rags, full of dust with dirty clothes; Often blind, with stumps instead of hands and feet... imagine the infected wounds, stinking, flies...;
A gesture from Jesus touches me and this sentence is fundamental: Mt 8: 3 Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him
Jesus goes so far as to touch him and thus risk being ritually impure. The Pharisees refused him for a good cause: spiritual!
Ex: I have treated lepers in Laos and I remember the health workers who refused to treat them; I remember having to kneel down to heal the soles of my feet, cutting the horn from the purulent ulcer to the scalpel blade, I remember the smell, the sweat... I believe that there in front of these spectators I preached by touching, caring... I know this is what Marked my Laotian colleagues.
We see Jesus’ unconditional welcome to all the unclean: those who are physically, mentally and spiritually ill. "It's not the good people who need a doctor, but the sick. Mt 9:12» How are we loyal to the mission's call to the rejected?
How does the church welcome the one who lives in sin without accepting the scars?
How does the church open its doors? Is she a club for pure or a bunch of lepers?
How do we welcome the sick, the psychiatric cases that no one wants?
the ethnic barrier
Mt 8: 5 As Jesus entered into Capernaum, ...: When Jesus settles in Galilee, he knows that this part of Israel is a population with mixed blood much less Jewish than in Judea. When he sets up his base camp, he knows there is a foreign garrison: the archaeologists have found a Roman military base east of the Jewish village! No wonder then to see him do some dating.
Mat 8: 5 As Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him and begged him.
A Roman centurion is impure because of his ethnic origin.
But Jesus breaks all the ethnic barriers. One sentence sums it up: I will heal it. (V7) I mean, I will go to your house to heal your servant: an unthinkable thing!
Jesus left us a precise instruction: Matt 28:19 Go, make disciples of all nations, ...
In spite of this teaching of Jesus, Peter will be almost forced by God to go to the Roman officer Corneille and he will make this observation now obvious, but revolutionary at the time: Now I really realize that God does not make a difference between the men. (Acts 10.34).
How are we faithful to the call to the mission to foreigners?
Do we listen to God's call to leave all over the world? 150 years ago the missions were discussing whether the savage had a soul and needed to send missionaries. Since then, the question has been solved.
The current questions are: How do we witness to the migrants who arrive en masse in our countries?
Are we going on mission in the modern "Samaria" that are our suburbs?
Sarah (I changed the name) is a Muslim of Moroccan origin. She arrived at the reception house of our church in Montbéliard a few years ago with
her husband and 6 month old son. They were going through a period of financial instability, the stay in this house allowed them to reintegrate socially. But the husband, an inveterate drinker, became violent and Fatima had to leave him. She had no family in France and this Muslim woman repeated to the Christians who welcomed her: "you are my only family". The last time we saw her was in January when she was waiting for a bus to go live 200 km away. She saw light at the reception house and entered. It was the first evening of the alpha course that restarted. She saw it as a special sign because she had wanted to participate years ago but had never been able to come. It was a special evening, she left with tears in her eyes, I do not know if she met Christ, but she met some of his disciples on mission ...
Dia 10 2.3 the barrier of the kind
Mat 8:14 Then Jesus went to Peter's house, where he saw the mother-in-law, lying with fever.
The woman since the fall is considered inferior to the man; she was impure during the time of her period and everything she touched at that moment became impure. ... it's a real curse that has fallen on women.
Jesus breaks the barrier of the genre and is interested not only in the fever of this woman, but shows her affection in a confusing way: He took her hand, and this in defiance of the rules of propriety.
He will be touched by a woman with a blood loss for 12 years at risk of becoming impure.
How does the church allow these healings?
Are we breaking down the barriers of the genre or are we relocating new ones?
How does the church become a prophetic sign of this kingdom where there is neither man nor woman?
Dia 11 2.4 The spiritual barrier
In the evening, we brought him several demoniacs .... Mat 8.16
After these three miracles, we see arriving at the end of the day, at the bend of a verse another barrier: a spiritual barrier, with a spiritual world impure, hostile: it brought him several demoniacs.
The kingdom of God comes to destroy the prince of this world and his hold on the world.
Never Jesus touch the demons ...! but He drove out the spirits by his word.
The text states that it was: After sunset Luke 4:40. Luke explains that it was the Sabbath day, an important detail because it was forbidden to heal and even to do good during the Sabbath.
Sometimes our spirituality has closed some people's doors and established new barriers;
I regularly see people in contact with the demonic powers ... but does the church know how to welcome them? Have not we developed a theology that prevents us?
Some think that these powers do not exist, others believe but from a theoretical point of view but do nothing for them. The church often does not offer anything for the deliverance of these people.
Last month, I prayed with a young Christian man who had had insulting thoughts against God; they had assailed him to the point of being afraid of losing his mind; it was by prayer in the name of Jesus that he was delivered.
What are we doing to remove this barrier?
How do we pray for the deliverance of those chained by evil spirits?
3. Dia 12 A mission with God!
In chapters 8 and 9, Jesus reveals his love for others, his compassion, his interest in others; this is the first step; that's what we can do ...
If we stop at this, we do nothing more than the thousands or millions of selfless men and women who work in the humanitarian, the social ... and who exercise their compassion.
But these two chapters show a second characteristic of Jesus: his authority
Beside the compassion of Jesus There is the Authority of Jesus (8.8-9) to rediscover ...
This authority is well summed up in v. 17 Thus the word of the prophet Isaiah is fulfilled: He took our infirmities And he took charge of our diseases.
Not only did he have compassion, but he also had the authority to remove all these barriers, to take all these infirmities and diseases.
In our missionary sending by God, our compassion will not be enough if we do not appeal to the authority of Jesus. We do not have to make authoritarianism or spiritual abuse, but we must let Jesus exercise his authority and ourselves go with his authority.
Dia 13 Before giving us the order to Go ..., he says All power has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Mt 28:18.
Since all power has been given to me you can go ... you can remove all the barriers.
Some must rediscover compassion, but it seems to me that our churches must rediscover the authority of Jesus! There is no mission in the name of Christ without counting on his power and authority!
A year ago, five Christians from a village in southeastern Laos were thrown into prison because they testified to their faith in the surrounding villages. The families of these Christians were of course in disarray and a chain of prayer was set up
crossing borders. The head of the prison told them they would be held for life. To their astonishment, they were released on the 17th day of captivity! When asked for the reason for their release, the prison leader told them that he had had a dream where he had been told that if he continued to be imprisoned, he would have a great misfortune.
Dia 14 Our mission since 2000 years is to go to the men and women whom God puts on our way and as far as he calls us, even if for that we have to cross the world.
Our mission is to go to the sick, the rejected. Our mission must be expressed by acts of compassion that will enable us to remove certain barriers, as prophetic actions. Our mission is to heal, nurture, help, but also proclaim the good news of Christ and pray ... Everything goes together and we can not dissociate it.
Our mission is finally to go in the name of Christ, with the authority of Christ. In this way Christ will be able to go further, destroy certain walls, destroy the fortresses, heal the sick and deliver the demoniacs. But even stronger, this authority will allow our mission to find fulfillment in this word of Jesus: Take courage my child, your sins are forgiven (Mat 9.3)
One last testimony: he is 35 years old, has been depressed for years, lives in sin. He started the alpha course in early 2018 without conviction; Here is his testimony at the end of the journey: I was released completely from my depression; my psychotherapist does not understand; I thought the church was going to condemn me, I found friends and family there; my life has changed dramatically during this journey.
All power has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, make disciples of all nations ... (Mt 28.18-19)