Grace Lutheran Church Weekly Devotion - Matthew 9:35—10:20
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. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
10:1And 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. 2The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
5These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.
Our Gospel lesson today describes how Jesus brought blessings to the people of His day. He revealed that He was the Good Shepherd who had come to help the straying and the lost and to lay down His life for their sake. In the twelfth chapter of Matthew Jesus proclaims the surprising and amazing truth that “something greater than the temple . . . something greater than Jonah . . . something greater than Solomon is here” (6, 41, 42). Which means that something greater than sin and the devil is here. That is the good news of the kingdom! Jesus came into the world to win the victory over the oppressive forces of evil, Satan, death, and hell.
Jesus is concerned for our souls as well as our bodies. The Lord God encourages us to pray “earnestly” for recovery from our bodily ailments but especially for spiritual growth that leads to Christian maturity. The Holy Spirit caused St. James to write, “the prayers of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (5:15-16). Christ’s greatest blessings are spiritual, meant to bring about a heavenly and holy cure. He provides a washing away of sins through His holy, innocent, and precious blood which He willingly shed on the cross, to bring reconciliation between God and us. Everything Jesus did then—He makes available to us through His grace: Whether we experience it through His holy Word or His pardon spoken in absolution or through the Holy Supper, we are strengthened and blessed not only spiritually but physically. The words we proclaim, “depart in great joy and peace,” remind us that by God’s grace and mercy we have been given the gift of rest in our mind, our emotions, and our bodies. Everything He did then and does today is to call all people to repentance, faith, and to follow Him through a grateful and obedient, sanctified life directed by the Holy Spirit.
God in Christ gives us far more blessings in this life than we could ever imagine. Scripture reminds us in Ephesians 3:20 that our Lord and Savior “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” True, it is primarily spiritual blessings that are meant in this passage, but because we are, by God’s design, inseparably linked with our spirit and our soul, those blessings spill over to the whole person. Praise God for His generous and steadfast love that overflows from our cup of blessing in so many ways. And it is all because “while we were still helpless, at the right time,” our Lord Jesus Christ “died for the ungodly” to fully atone for our sins to save us “from the wrath of God” (cf. Rm. 5:9; NASB). Everything He did then and does today is to call all people to repentance, faith, and to follow Him through a grateful and obedient, sanctified life directed by the Holy Spirit. Through His willing sacrifice on Calvary, Jesus has reconciled us to God the Father so that we may be saved by His life. “To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21).
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Cheyenne Wells, CO, 80810-0728
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