The Glory of God in His Kindness to the Helpless
A few weeks ago, I was reading in Matthew 10 where Jesus chose his twelve disciples, gave them authority over demonic forces and the ability to heal all kinds of sickness, and then sent them out to preach the good news of the Kingdom and heal people. The specific and radical nature of Jesus’ instruction to these messengers struck me, and I wrote down a note to study this more carefully.
This morning, I got a chance to look deeper into this passage. I started by researching cross-references in Mark 6 and Luke 9 to extract details about the charge that Jesus gave his disciples. The kind of things Jesus told his disciples to do are incredible:
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.
- Matthew 10:8 (ESV)
This is a list of some amazingly powerful actions! Yet Jesus gave them the authority, and He reminds them that the power they had was given for free; he commands them to do these things without expecting payment. Jesus knows our tendency towards entrepreneurship. If we could make a dollar, we will be tempted to do so. The point obviously wasn’t to raise funds for a “Jesus Movement”. The disciples went out to help the hurting solely to promote the glory of God through Jesus. This is shown in the reaction of Herod immediately following the commission of the disciples:
King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known. Some said, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead. That is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.”
- Mark 6:14 (ESV)
Herod didn’t ask “Who are these guys going around healing folks and exorcising demons?” It was clear that all of these good things were done in the name of Jesus; it was Christ’s power at work, and He was getting the glory! That’s the amazing thing about the grace and love of God: we don’t pay for anything. Instead, God pours out his power in a miraculous way to straighten out problems we can’t resolve, and He gets the glory.
Just like the sick, hurting, and even dead people that Jesus sent his disciples to help, you and I are in trouble. And it’s a much bigger problem than sickness, demon-possession, or even physical death. All people have been created by God to live for His glory and to enjoy fellowship with Him. But we have failed to glorify God as we ought. I know that I’ve rejected God and exchanged the infinitely-amazing opportunity of His fellowship for the momentary and empty pleasures of sin. In fact, God makes it clear that all humankind has fallen short of his standard of perfection. Because of this, you and I deserve eternal punishment from God. Why eternal punishment? The 18th-century theologian Jonathan Edwards explains it this way:
Our obligation to love, honor and obey any being is in proportion to his loveliness, honor and authority. Therefore, sin against God, being a violation of infinite obligations, must be a crime infinitely heinous and so deserving infinite punishment. If there is any evil in sin against God it is infinite evil.
- The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 1
Despite our sin against God, in mercy He sent Jesus to save sinners like you and me. Jesus did this by dying in our place, taking the death that we deserved. And then Jesus declared victory over that death by rising from the dead. The Bible makes it clear that we can enjoy the benefits purchased by Christ’s death by repenting and trusting in Him. So, even though we have a terrible problem and are lost forever, there is hope! I’m grateful to say that this hope has become a reality in my life. God alone worked in my soul to make me alive, enabling me to see my need for a savior, and creating in me a desire to trust in Jesus, to God’s glory.
My prayer is that you will become aware of the horrible problem you face - your own sin and the penalty of eternal separation from your Creator. And I pray that God will work in your heart to allow you to turn in repentance to him and trust completely in Jesus Christ for all your righteousness and salvation.