Friday, January 15, 2010

An international Sunday school lesson commentary

For Sunday January 17, 2010

(GOD is working, whether we see HIM or not)
(Matthew 9:27-38)

In the biblical Greek, the word used by the Synoptic Gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) for “compassion” is “splanchnizomai” (splanckh-nid-zom-ahee) and it is a deep expression that quite literally means, “to yearn with pity for someone, even down to the depths of one’s bowels”. It is a deep feeling of sadness for the sufferings of others, not unlike the way JESUS feels compassion for us, and the way we should feel for each other.
Matthew chapter 9 concludes as JESUS continues to show HIS matchless compassion and concern for HIS people by opening the blind eyes of two men, and then, restoring the speech of another. However, HE is still unable to reach the hardened hearts of the religious hierarchy of Palestine, who now begin to blasphemingly ascribe JESUS’ miraculous healing power to satan.
In verses 27-30, two physically blind men call on the name of JESUS, and then, follow HIM into a little house in Capernaum where HE was staying, probably with Peter. There, they beseech our LORD and SAVIOR to restore their sight to them. JESUS asked them, “Do you believe that I can make you see?” and they both responded, “We do”. Then JESUS touched their eyes with HIS hands of compassion and told them, “It is by your faith that you are healed”. And immediately they were able to see.
When the two men left, a demon-possessed man was brought to JESUS who could not speak because of his spiritual infliction. JESUS once again shows HIS compassion by casting out the demon and immediately the man was able to speak again. The crowd of people, that surrounded the house, was marvelously astounded, by what they had just witnessed, for they had never seen anything like this before in their lifetimes. But the Pharisees who were also present, sought to stem the peoples’ excitement by telling them that JESUS’ power to heal came from the devil.
In verses 35-38, Matthew sums up JESUS’ three-fold ministry, which consisted of teaching, preaching, and healing. As JESUS traveled through the nearby towns and villages, HE taught in the synagogues and announced the Good News of the Kingdom, all the while, healing the afflicted of all sorts of illnesses.
JESUS felt great compassion for the throngs of people that pressed against, and sought after HIM, for HIS care and attention. They were like sheep without a shepherd, and this caused JESUS to turn to HIS disciples and remind them of the great need for workers who could dedicate themselves to the concerns of GOD. “The harvest is great”, HE told them, “But the workers are so few”. “So let us pray that the LORD GOD, WHO is in charge of the harvest, will send out more workers for HIS field”.
On this past Tuesday afternoon, January 12, 2010, there came a devastating earthquake that rocked Haiti, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. It is a nation where 100% of the inhabitants have been introduced to, or, are part time practitioners of either, the Catholic, or Protestant versions of Christianity.
Sadly, however, they reduce themselves to the status of “Folk Christianity” as they also continue to practice VooDoo and ancient Taino religious practices (worship of the idol gods “zemis” and “yucahu”) right along side their Christian beliefs. However, true Christians know that GOD, the FATHER of our LORD and SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST, is not a part time GOD. HE is the only true GOD and HE will not allow HIS confessed followers to share their affections with idol man-made gods.
In the biblical Greek the word New Testament writers use for “longsuffering” is “makrothumia”. It describes a spirit that never grows irritated, never despairs, and above all, never regards anyone, as being beyond salvation.
That is the attitude that JESUS exhibited towards the people of the first century whom HE personally ministered to despite their history of disobedience to the word of GOD. And that is also the attitude that FATHER GOD has toward us, who, throughout the history of HIS creation, has steadfastly rebelled against HIM. HE has always been, and continues to be, “longsuffering” with us, by putting up our sinful rebellions and weaknesses, billions of times each day, worldwide.
However, GOD reminds us from time to time of HIS displeasure with our behavior and HE uses HIS great power to shake us back into reality. Sadly many of us never seem to want to take heed to HIS warnings, and we continue to show our love for the sin we are involved in instead.
Its funny how the very people who refuse to serve GOD, also, always seem to blame GOD for the tragedies they find themselves in, basically, because they are out of the will of GOD. If tragedies befall a person while they’re earnestly trying to live within the will of GOD, then, it would be humanly understandable why that person would question GOD about their plight. But when we blatantly and defiantly deny GOD through our behavior, we must be prepared to suffer some degree of consequences for our indiscretions.
Thankfully, GOD will always forgive those who earnestly repent of their offenses against HIM, whether or not those offenses are by word, or by deed. And according to JESUS, as HE expressed it in HIS now famous, “Mount Olive Discourse”, concerning the final judgment (Matthew 25:31-47), we will be judged according to our reaction to human need.
In other words, when we see our fellowman in need of our compassionate assistance due to tragic circumstances, or, just by the everyday misfortunes and happenstances of life, GOD expects us to lend a hand just JESUS lends HIS hand to us in our time of need, especially when we believe on HIM. And when we respond positively to the needs of our fellowman, no matter where in the world they are, and irregardless to why we think they found themselves in their predicaments, we, in effect, are responding positively to GOD.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
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