As preached by Zach Thompson.
1) Jesus has all authority, and he is filled with compassion (8:1-9:38).
2) So make disciples like Jesus (10:1-15).
3) As you look to God rather than men (10:16-42).
Matthew 8-10 | Kingdom Authority
Good morning Christ Fellowship!
If you haven’t turned there already, we’ll be in the book of Matthew today. We’ll cover chapters 8 to 10.
If you are using one of our provided Bibles, that should be on page 762.
For our public reading, we’ll read from chapter 9 in verses 35 to 38.
If you are able, please stand in honor of the reading of God’s word.
“And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
In 1997, Joseph Kennedy and Sara Charles published a book called, Authority: The Most Misunderstood Idea in America.
No, I haven’t read the book, and I’m not positive that I would agree with some of the solutions and responses they come up with. But we can at least agree on the title.
Americans have been confused about authority for a very long time. And I’m not saying that the confusion is unwarranted. In most cases, if you find authority, then you will find an abuse of that authority.
Over taxation of citizens. Bribes to pervert justice. Physical threats to a child or a wife. Manipulation that’s dressed up like genuine concern. Power and authority get used for personal gain instead of nourishment and protection.
It’s all over the place, and we are just scratching the surface. And maybe I’ve waded into waters too deep for us to really start to address today, but this is what I’m getting at.
We can’t hate authority because of its misuse.
If we buck against every kind of authority without any kind of qualification, then we’ve thrown the baby out with the bath water.
We started to see this back in Matthew chapters 5-7.
Last time that we were in Matthew, we looked at the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus laid out the reality that the kingdom life starts with grace. We start the kingdom life by recognizing that we are spiritually bankrupt. And after we come to the cross in our filth, we walk from the cross in righteousness, and we are called to live out a kingdom ethic.
After Jesus laid all of that out, the crowds were amazed. They weren’t just amazed at what Jesus said. They were amazed at how he said it. Look back at the end of chapter 7. Look in verse 28.
“And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.”
Jesus taught with a special authority. It was like the difference between someone saying, “I heard a kid in elementary school say that this is a bad idea.” And another person saying, “God says you have to stop.” It’s a very different authoritative voice. Isn’t it?
This is the starting point for our text today.
The crowds were amazed at the authority of his teaching, and this week, they are amazed because of the authority that he lived.
And this is our first point today.
Jesus has all authority, and he is filled with compassion (8:1-9:38)
Notice that this is present tense. That’s intentional. Jesus is alive now, and he hasn’t stopped having authority and compassion.
Jesus has all authority, and he is filled with compassion. We see this in 8:1-9:38.
Look in 8:1. “When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him.”
Okay, so this is right after he comes off the mountain. And the crowds that showed up on the mountain are now following him around. Then Matthew jumps right into it. Verse 2.
“And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “‘Lord if you will, you can make me clean.’ 3 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I will; be clean.’ And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 And 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. ”
Lepers were a pariah in Jewish society. They were infamously unclean. If someone developed leprosy, then they couldn’t even be with their family for fear that they would infect them.
Being unclean meant that you couldn’t go to the temple. It meant that there were dozens of things that a normal person could assume that you weren’t even allowed to touch.
But Jesus doesn’t even flinch. Do you notice that he stretches out his hand before he even speaks. Look at it in verse 3. He is already stretching out his hand when he says, “I will. Be clean.”
Jesus has the authority to heal and he has the compassion to care.
And for the rest of chapters 8 and 9, Matthew goes on to demonstrate this beyond doubt.
There are 9 different accounts. 3 groups of 3.
He uses his authority for the marginalized (8:1-22).
The first three accounts record Jesus performing miracles for people on the outskirts of society.
This unclean leper in 8:2-4 where Jesus touches an unclean man and makes him clean.
Then an unworthy centurion in 8:5-13 understands the nature of Jesus’ authority, and he asks Jesus to heal a servant that is miles away. And Jesus marvels at his faith. The faith of a gentile sinner.
Then in 8:14-17, Jesus heals an unwell woman and many demon-oppressed people.
Jesus was using his authority to heal people and demonstrate that it wasn’t only the social in-crowd of Jewish society who would be part of the kingdom of heaven. The kingdom welcomes societal outcasts.
That’s why Matthew quotes Isaiah 53. Look in 8:17, “This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”
He wants to make it explicitly clear that the suffering servant who would be despised by men [that’s what Isaiah was referring to], this man knew what it meant to be on the outskirts of respectable society, and he had compassion.
He has all authority, and he is full of compassion.
And the text makes something very clear here. Being religiously impressive or societally acceptable is not what makes you a follower of Jesus. That’s what it says in 8:18-19. Jesus turns two impressive people away, and he makes it clear that following Jesus means unqualified allegiance.
Jesus says that he is homeless and that you can leave the dead to bury their own dead. And it seems like these people walk away.
He’s not advocating dishonoring parents here. He makes that clear in Matthew 15. But he does make this clear.
That being a follower of Jesus means unqualified obedience.
So picture a table. You are on one side, and Jesus is on the other side. For everything you put on the table, Jesus can do whatever he wants with it. This text is saying that every single thing in your life should be on that table. So think for a moment.
What are you keeping in your hand? Is it some way that you are spending your time? Is it some piece of your reputation? Or a relationship? Or a desire?
Do you place conditions on following Jesus? I will follow Jesus as long as he gives me.. Fill in the blank. As long as he doesn’t take this thing from me.
Following Jesus means unqualified allegiance, and it will probably mean that you end up on the outskirts of acceptable society in some way. But be there with confidence, because you are in the company of your Lord.
In the next 3 accounts, Jesus demonstrates the full extent of his authority.
He has the authority of God (8:23-9:8).
In 8:23-27, he tells a literal storm to calm down, and it listens. And the disciples are like, “Who is this guy?” If your soccer coach shouted at the rain so that the field wouldn’t get wet, then you would think he was kind of out of control. But if the storm listened and retreated, you would know that he was not a normal soccer coach. This is power that can only be attributed to God. Jesus was a man. And he commanded creation. And creation obeyed.
In 8:28-34, he interacts with a demon-possessed guy who is so uncontrollable that no one can even walk on the road where he lives. And before Jesus even says anything, the demons cry out in fear. Look in 8:29, “And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?”
Side note here. These demons know that they are on a clock. There is an appointed time when they will be powerless to oppress and they will be under eternal torment. The enemy knows that he will lose. And that is an encouraging thought for the people of God.
But the point here is this. Jesus had full authority over these demons, and they knew it. So they begged him. Look in verse 31. “And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” And he said go, and the pigs rushed off the mountain.
Listen if you have two people, and one is standing there calm while the other is groveling on the ground begging with tears and snot and everything else… then you know which one has authority over the other.
Then in 9:1-8, Some people bring Jesus a paralytic, and he skips the healing part and goes straight to announcing the forgiveness of sins. Look in 9:2, “And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”
You can imagine the people sitting there. “Whoah Jesus! Hold on here. Forgiving sins is something that only God can do.” And Jesus would say that you are exactly right.
He proclaims the man’s sins forgiven, and then he heals him so that everyone there is left without a response except to worship God. Look in 9:8. “When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.”
Just take a moment to let all of this set in. Jesus is man. He has flesh like you and me, and he is commanding the wind to stop. Demons shout out in fear when he walks by. And he can forgive sins.
We are so familiar with Jesus that this can feel ordinary. What would you do if someone just started to do any of this stuff? We are reading in the Bible, where we are used to seeing supernatural things. But this is real. Jesus is a real man. And he carries the real authority of God because he actually is God.
It’s something to stop and wonder at!
8:27, “the men marveled, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”
9:8, “When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.”
Behold Jesus and marvel.
There is one more section of 3 healing accounts. I know this is taking a minute to get through all of these, but we need to see this.
His authority demands a response (9:9-38)
As Look in 9:9. “As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” and he rose and followed him. 10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teach eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ But when he heard it, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.’”
Again, we see Jesus calling someone with authority and demonstrating compassion for societal outcasts. “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Now, this is another one of those things that we just don’t get as modern, non-Jewish people. Tax collectors were despised in Jewish society. They had basically sold out their own people to make a profit, and if that weren’t bad enough, they regularly had to be in contact with Gentiles which would have made them constantly unclean.
But Jesus came to save these guys. He came to save people that you don’t want your kids interacting with because they will be a bad influence. He came to save people that make you uncomfortable because their humor is off-color.
But there is still a bigger point here. The point is that Matthew left his tax booth and followed Jesus. He responded with faith. By the way, this is the same Matthew who wrote the gospel, to be clear.
And after this, he goes on to outline more miraculous healings that we could spend an entire sermon on. A woman with a flow of blood for 12 years is healed just by touching Jesus. A girl is raised from the dead when Jesus touches her. In both of these instances, it’s significant that Jesus touches them, because they both would have been considered unclean before he touched them, but they weren’t after he touched them.
Then he heals two blind men because they have faith. Then he casts a demon out of a mute man so that he is able to speak.
Verse 33, “. . . And the crowds marveled, saying, ‘Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” 34 But the Pharisees said, ‘ He casts out demons by the prince of demons.’”
At this point, Jesus’ power and authority were indisputable, but in the face of all of this, the Pharisees still say that he is basically Satan.
Who are you like? Are you like Matthew? Or like the Pharisees?
If you have been like the Pharisee, don’t think that this is Jesus pushing you away.
Jesus loved the Pharisees, and Jesus loves you. The difference between the tax collectors and the Pharisees is that the tax collectors knew that they were wretched and despised, but the Pharisees thought that they had it all together. The difference is that one recognized their need while another thought they were already worthy.
When he sees your pain, his heart breaks. He has compassion, even if you are self-righteous. But his authority demands a response. And acting like Jesus was a good dude but not really worthy of worship? That is a response. It’s a rejection of Jesus. Calling Jesus a god but not the God is a rejection of who Jesus is showing himself to be.
But still, he has compassion. Look in verse 36 again.
“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
His compassion didn’t just drive him to work harder. It drove him to prayer. “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.” How often do you survey the valley here and think about the desperate need for the gospel? It’s overwhelming. It’s a clear opportunity to see that we are entirely insufficient for the work, and we should be driven to the same thing that Jesus is. Pray earnestly.
Jesus saw the need, and he knew God’s plan for the world.
He knew that the gospel would go forth through his people, so he told his disciples to pray that the Lord would provide laborers for the harvest.
But he didn’t leave it at prayer. Immediately after praying that the Lord would provide laborers, Jesus calls the twelve disciples, and he sends them out.
And this is our next point.
Jesus has all authority, and he is filled with compassion,
So make disciples like Jesus (10:1-15)
Make disciples like Jesus.
Jesus directed his disciples to pray for laborers, then he immediately sent his disciples out as laborers. It’s instructive that Jesus prays for this, then he pursues it. This is the beginning of what it means to make disciples like Jesus. Pray earnestly and pursue it.
But it doesn’t stop there.
What does it mean to make disciples like Jesus?
We start to see what this means just by looking at the 12 disciples. It lists them there in 1-4. I wish we had more time to look at this a bit longer but just read through it with me.
10:1, “And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter [We all know about Peter. This is the loud guy with a foot-shaped mouth], and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother [those two are called the “Sons of Thunder.” I’ll let you put that together. Two sets of brothers who were probably all forceful personalities]; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas [who we all know was probably from Missouri because of how skeptical he was] and Matthew the tax collector [who was a traitor to the Jewish people because he worked for the government] ; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Zealot [Do you know what a zealot was? It was a violent rebel against the state! Within the twelve disciples, there was a man who had betrayed his people to work for the state and a man who betrayed the state to work for his people], and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.”
This was a motley crew. These weren’t people who would have gotten along outside of the fact that they all followed the same person.
And Jesus sends these guys out. He releases them with his very own authority. Look what he tells them to do. Look in 10:7, “And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.”
He tells them to do the exact same things that he has been doing. And just like Jesus, they are supposed to go with compassion, that’s why he tells them not to require money for their services. But they still carry his authority. That’s why their message still demands a response.
Look in 10:12. It demands a response, “As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.”
He sends them out. And don’t get caught in weeds here. There is a lot to chew on, but one of the main takeaways here is that this didn’t stop with the 12 on this particular day.
If you are following Jesus, then you have been sent.
Jesus sends us with authority and he has modeled compassion.
Matthew 28:18-20, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
We’ve been sent.
The same Jesus who commanded the storm and raised that little girl from the dead is the same Jesus will be with you until the end of the age.
So as you preach the gospel to neighbors and friends and coworkers, default to compassion, but speak with authority.
What would it look like for you to have the compassion of Jesus as you seek to make disciples? Is there someone you’ve been avoiding that you should’ve already stretched out your hand toward them?
What about speaking with the authority of Jesus? Do you soften the truth so much that you compromise on the truth? Is there someone who needs to be reminded that Jesus came to save sinners and if they already have it together, then this isn’t for them?
I want to dwell on this more. There are so many implications to explore here, but we need to keep moving.
Our final point.
Jesus has all authority, and he is filled with compassion. So make disciples like Jesus:
As you look to God rather than men (10:16-42).
After Jesus gives that initial instruction to the twelve, he gives them more direction about what to expect when they go to preach the gospel without Jesus by their side.
And it’s pretty bad.
They are going to be persecuted. They are going to be brought on trial. They are going to be called Satan, just like Jesus. They are going to lose relationships.
And the response to all of it?
Look to God rather than men.
He says to beware of men, but don’t fear them. Look in 10:16, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.”
Now skip down to verse 26. “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.”
Caution and fear are different things. Do you remember how I mentioned last time that Jesus tried to avoid the crowds? He knew the heart of men, and he didn’t entrust himself to them. But he didn’t fear them. He did it again in our text today, even though I didn’t point it out. Back in 8:18, Jesus commands them to go across the lake because he notices that crowds have been following again. He had compassion on them, but he didn’t entrust himself to them.
But for us, why shouldn’t we fear men? Because we can look to God. What does it mean to look to God? Jesus gives some specificity here.
I see 5 things in this text that show us what it means to look to God rather than men. We are going to sprint through them.
First, looking to God means trusting God to give you the right words in the moment of persecution
Look in verse 19. “When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” Looking to God means trusting the Holy Spirit to give you the right words in the moment of persecution.
Second, looking to God also means looking to eternal reward
Look in verse 21, “Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Looking to God means looking past our present circumstance to our final salvation. God isn’t going to miss a detail. That’s why he says what he does down in verse 40, “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet, because he is a prophet, will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” Receive people for the sake of the gospel. Let others receive you for the sake of the gospel. Because all of it is a way of looking to God as we make disciples.
Third, looking to God means finding comfort in the companionship of Christ’s suffering.
We can find comfort in the fact that Jesus has suffered the same things and worse. Verse 24, “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.” We can find comfort in the companionship of Christ in our suffering.
Fourth, looking to God means trusting that God will finally judge sin.
Verse 26, “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” When you consider an eternity of misery, even a lifetime of intense suffering is a short time to wait. This is what he is pointing to later in verse 32. “So everyone who acknowledges me before me, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” The thought of being denied before the Father should both compel us to look to God, and it should compel us to make disciples with compassion and authority.
Fifth, looking to God means trusting in God’s good and sovereign plan for his people.
Verse 29, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” God knows how many hairs you have on your head. He knows how many bristles are on the toothbrush that you threw away three years ago. He isn’t going to miss a detail and forget about you.
Jesus has all authority, and he is filled with compassion, so we should make disciples like Jesus as we look to God rather than men.
I think that we can begin to close by reading what Jesus says in 10:34-39. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Jesus either has authority, or he doesn’t. And we’d be fooling ourselves if we thought that Jesus’ message was only ever going to bring people together. Jesus literally just said that his message will divide people. Sons and fathers, daughters and mothers.
“Whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
When Jesus bids a sinner come, he bids him come and die. The cross was a mechanism for death. It was a torture device. If someone picked up a cross, it meant that when they put it down, they would be crucified on it.
Jesus had authority to heal sickness. He had authority to literally move heaven and earth. He had authority over death.
And he walked in perfect righteousness. He never sinned against God or man.
But even though he had the authority to call the whole thing off– even though he didn’t deserve it, he laid down his life on the cross, and the book of Hebrews said that he did it for the joy that was set before him.
What was that joy? On the third day, he was resurrected. His body came out of the grave glorified and eternal. And all who trust in his name are given a promise. We are promised to be with him for all of eternity. We are promised resurrection and life that will last for the rest of eternity. This was the joy that was set before Jesus. And this is the joy that is set before us.
An eternity of restored perfection where God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit will will receive all of the glory due to His name. And we will be in unhindered fellowship with him for all eternity.
If you are hearing this, and you don’t have this hope, then don’t ignore this. Trust in Jesus. The road may be hard. Jesus actually guarantees that it will be. But look to God, and remember this promise. Turn to him today.
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”