29 Sep 2019
The Bible speaks of amazing grace - God does not save men out of fairness or what we deserve, but out of His generosity. And perhaps that's why Matthew (and the other synoptic gospel writers - Mark and Luke) would choose to include this healing of the 2 blind men as the very last healing miracle by Jesus. This simple but powerful miracle demonstrates the very grace of God for the "no-hopers" of this world. Tune in to the sermon to discover how this proves the Messiahship of Jesus, illustrates the Mission of Jesus and reinforces the Message of Jesus.
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Now, we are at Matthew chapter 20, the very last few verses in this chapter. This mark the close of a series, a mini-series, we have entitled, "The Upside Down Kingdom". Really, Jesus has been showing and teaching us that the Kingdom of God is really very different from the kingdoms of this world.
Last week, we ended with a message on Mrs. Zebedee. It was a very short sermon and so today someone asked, “Pastor, why was your sermon so short last week?” I was, I was thinking she's going to ask me, “Are you lazy?” But, but she didn't do that, she was kind, she asked, "Is it because of PSLE?” I said, “No, not because of PSLE …” but I told her that today's sermon will also be very short. And I said, “Is also not because of PSLE.”
Many of us, here in Gospel Light would be very familiar with hymns. We sing a mixture of traditional hymns and modern Christian songs. So I like to ask you to consider some hymns that different people may appreciate more.
For example, if you're working in a construction line, or if you are a contractor, would there be a hymn that will be your favourite? Okay, this is a bit tongue in cheek, you need to have a lateral thinking a little bit. Any song, any hymn that will be a favourite for contractors? How Firm a Foundation. That's a great song, John but I just put it as ‘The Churches' One Foundation’.
You're nodding, you all get the joke. Okay, if you're not getting it, try the second one. This is very common, I think many of you have joked about it before already. What's the dentist's favourite hymn? Crowned Him with many crowns. You're absolutely spot on, alright!
How about the weather forecasters hymn. There shall be showers of blessing. Very good! How about optometrists? There are a few options here but you can suggest. Opened my eyes that I may see, glimpses of truth, Thou has for me, alright! Open my eyes that I may see.
How about this one? This one is difficult alright. Tailors? Holy, holy, holy. You need to have lateral thinking, alright. The last one, how about bakers? Okay, this one is - I need thee every hour. Okay, this is corny, I know. Alright, but it just wakes you up a little, just to follow along.
Now, all these different jobs, they have different songs that may identify with them a little bit more closely. But I think there's a song, there's a hymn we all would appreciate because we all are sinners. And we all recognize that we are wretched and sinful and filthy and helpless and hopeless, before a very, very, very Holy God. And this song is one of the most favourite hymns of all time. And it's a song, - Amazing grace.
Grace is what we've been looking at in the upside down kingdom that God deals with men not according to what he deserves. But in His salvation, he gives two men what he doesn't deserve because He deals with men according to His rich generosity.
And so we read of how the first in this world, end up last because they don't see their need for grace, they don't see their need for God. And those who are last end up first because they recognize they are desperate in need of grace. So we speak of God's amazing grace. This is the very distinctive of the Christian message. What really marks out the faith of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ is that God saves man out of His own mercy and grace.
It is not something given to those who have worked for it. It is not given to deserving humanity. It is a good and generous God who gives to undeserving people like as we are. That's amazing grace. And this song is written by a man called John Newton, you might have heard of him. He used to be a slave trader and he soon came to know Jesus as his Lord and Saviour. As a result of that, his life is changed, he's grateful to God.
And when he was old, and he was about to die, he said, “My memory is almost gone now, but there are two things I remember. Number one, that I am a great sinner. And number two, that Christ is a great Saviour.” The Christian message is summarized right here, that we are great sinners, every single one of us. There is none righteous, no, not one. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.
Sure, you may think that you're not as bad as Saddam Hussein. Who knows, maybe you really are! Or you may think that you're not as bad as those rapists and murderers and thieves. But if you are to see what God sees in our own hearts, we would have to bow and admit that we are all great sinners. We all are so far from what God wants us to be.
And because God is so holy, no sin would be tolerated in His Kingdom, we are all to be damned and doomed in hell forevermore. But here is grace, that when no man deserves any favour from God, he has chosen to give His Son Jesus Christ. And He was born into this world, as a baby, that He might go to the cross and be our substitute, be our sacrifice, and give himself to save you and I, who are absolutely unworthy from our sins. This is grace.
This is why we praise and worship Jesus. This is why we worship God because not only is He great, He's so good to give His Son to save us from our sins. So today, in our last sermon in the upside-down kingdom, we are brought to a reminder of this grace of God in how Jesus saves some, no hopers of life. These are the people in the outcast territory of Israel. These are people who are despised and are given no chance in society. But Jesus came along their lives and healed them and saved them.
So Matthew, chapter 20:29-34, really tells us about some blind men with 2020 vision. “Kind of a paradox,” you say. “How can blind men have perfect vision?” But I'll go to share with you why these blind men really had great vision, and how they are healing teaches about the grace of God.
1]. Their Plight
Alright, so let's begin! This story, first of all, brings us, leads us to appreciate the plight of these blind men. Let's consider their miserable condition. The Bible tells us plainly that the two of them are blind. [Matthew 20:30] We're not sure if they were born blind or they were blinded later on in their lives. But it is tragic enough to know that blindness struck them.
It's terrible to be blind. I have a presbyopia now, which is 老花眼 [lǎo huā yǎn]. And that's a secret, or that's a, that's a magical thing that happens to anyone when you hit four zero, so I've had that for some time now and I'm, I can't see very well when I use my phone. I have to …[pastor gestured by looking intently] like an old man. But that's, that's very inconvenient. But that's nothing compared to someone who is blind - can't see, can't appreciate colour, can't appreciate light, can't see the faces of those you love and so on and so forth.
And blindness is not only terrible, in and of itself, it's difficult to deal with. But in that time, that society, it's even worse because when you are blind, people generally think that you're blind because you've done something wrong. You're cursed! It's either you've done something wrong or your parents have done something wrong and God has cursed you with blindness.
Now, we don't say that in our day and age today. We, We don't attribute that so directly, although we know all sickness, ultimately came about because of sin. We don't say it's directly because of sin. But in that day, it's a bit different! People really saying that when you're blind, it's because you are cursed. And you're cursed because you have sinned or someone in your family has sinned.
How do I get that? Well, I suppose you can refer to John chapter 9:1-2, where there was another man who was born blind. “So Jesus passed by this man, He saw this man blind from birth. And His disciples then asked Jesus …” This is the immediate instinctive question. We see a blind man, we don't ask what disease. We don't ask what is it? Retinitis pigmentosa? Is it whatever? We don't ask diagnosis like that. We just ask, “Rabbi, who sin? It must be sin!” So we ask, “Who sin? This man or his parents that he was born blind.”
So you could imagine the stigma, the prejudice, the bias, the despising, the disparaging remarks, people must have said to these two blind men sitting by the roadside. “Huh! You deserve it!” Maybe like what the friends of job would have said, “You are in this bad shape because you've done something wrong.”
They are miserable people, these two blind men. And obviously, when you are blind in those days, there's very little productive work you could do. Very little employment you can find, unlike maybe in our modern society today. And so we see them sitting by the roadside. Why, why are they by the roadside? Obviously, they are there to sell hot dogs … no. They're sitting by the roadside because they are begging. And we don't have to guess, because Luke 18:35 tells us that they were doing so.
Now, I want you to note that there is no contradiction at all. Matthew writes about two blind men. Mark, and Luke writes about one of them, that's all. The focus is on one, but there really were two blind beggars. We are told about the name of one of them. In Mark 10:46, he is named, he's called Bartimaeus. It's significant, maybe, that Mark should write it. Some commentators say because Bartimaeus turned out to be one of the famous Christians in the early church.
Maybe that's the reason. We do not know exactly why but God gave us the name of one of them. He's called Bartimaeus. He's a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus. The word, ‘bar’ or the phrase, ‘bar’ means son of. So we have Simon bar Jonah. That's the name of Peter and literally means, Simon, son of Jonah. The Father's name is Jonah. So when you have Bartimaeus, you're saying that his name is son of Timaeus.
The word Timaeus or the name Timaeus has the root meaning of honour. So it's kind of an ironical name, isn't it? That this son of honour should now be a blind beggar - despised, sitting by the roadside. [Mark 10:46] I'm not sure if this is exactly so but perhaps God is using the story of blind Bartimaeus to remind us about the human plight, that we were actually made and born into this world with honour and dignity, but because Adam and Eve sinned against God.
We fell from grace, we lost the honour, we lost that dignity, we lost that joy and communion we have with God. And we are reduced to misery and shame and guilt, and spiritual blindness our whole life. So this is kind of a microcosm, a kind of a little picture of what humanity is perhaps.
2. Their Plea
So this story brings us to the picture of their sad condition. And then we are going to kind of focus on something that jumps right out of the page of the Bible, when you read this story. And that is - their plea, their cry, if I may say their prayer, very simple, very succinct, not long, no elaboration of why they deserve to be healed. But they simply say, “Lord, have mercy on us Son of David.” [Matthew 20:30] Their simple plea is predicated on God's compassion, mercy and grace. “God, Lord Jesus have mercy on us.”
I don't think I need to explain very much more than to say, mercy is given to those who don't deserve. They recognize they have nothing that would warrant or demand healing, but they're simply begging for mercy. But I'd like us to focus on the phrase used here, ‘son of David’. It's a very common phrase, actually, in the Bible, you will actually, if you are alert to it, you'll see that it happens quite a few times.
Of course, Jesus has called himself Son of Man. And that's the most common reference, but coming close will be the son of David reference. However, in today's day and age, very few Christians would call our Saviour, son of David. We will call Him, Jesus. We will call Him Christ. We will call Him Jesus Christ or we will call Him Lord or the Lord Jesus Christ, but very few Christians today would say, ‘son of David’, but here is a very important term.
Does anyone know where this phrase originates from? Hah, it's amazing when I was preparing this message, I thought I would just rush through this because I've mentioned Son of David, like two, three times through the book of Matthew. But obviously, I'm not clear, or you were sleeping, either case. So anyway, I'll try to say it again and I hope you remember because I think it's a very rich, theologically important phrase.
The son of David is a reference to the time when God spoke with David. During that time, David was saying, and wanting to build God a house. He was living in a grand palace, and he says, “No, it's not right that I should have a grand palace. I want to build God a house because till that, till then, it has been always that tabernacle, so something permanent, glorious, beautiful.”
But God said to David, “David, I've not asked you to build Me a house. You don't have to but instead, I will build you a house, and your house will be an everlasting kingdom. And it will be through one of your descendants. You will have a son, a descendant who will inherit an everlasting kingdom. He will be an everlasting King, not like you, not like Saul, whose kingdom could be taken away, but you will have a descendant who have an everlasting kingdom.”
That's the son of David reference, because it's a specific son, it's a specific promise, it's a great promise about an everlasting kingdom. Now later on, the prophet Isaiah, of course under inspiration of God, would expand upon this idea of everlasting King, when he gave us that Christmas verse, Isaiah 9:6. “For unto us, a child is given, a Son is born, a Son is given, a child is born, He will be the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace, the Everlasting Father.” Isn't it?
And so God is saying, through David that they will be this everlasting King. Isaiah gave us more details that this King will be the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. And so this motif of the son of David is enriched, it's deepened to help us understand that God is promising to the nation of Israel, there will be a mighty King who would save them from their sins.
Actually, if you are to be consistent and you remember, this idea of one great saviour King could really be traced all the way back to the Garden of Eden, in Genesis chapter 3. Right after Adam and Eve sinned against God, God did not give up on man. God did not say, “Alright, all of you are doomed, there is no hope!” But God knowing that we will be helpless in our sin, He promised right away that He will send a seed of a woman, that is from Eve, there will come a descendant who will crush the serpent's head.
There will come some Saviour, who will defeat Satan and sin and death and hell. And that's the promise! Promise that began in Genesis that followed on to the days of Abraham some 2000 years later, that God said to Abraham, “In your seed shall all nations be blessed.” So from the seed of a woman, He narrows it to the, to the bloodline of Abraham. And in the bloodline of Abraham, there will be one man who will be the source of blessing of all nations - Jews and Gentiles.
And then you fast forward that a few centuries to David's time, and then to Isaiah's time and then to Matthew's time. Matthew, of course, after knowing Jesus, he wrote in the Gospel of Matthew, Matthew chapter one, verse one. What does it say? I like you to take out your Bibles, I didn't put it here. I'd like you to take out your Bibles, together with me and just look at the way Matthew introduces his gospel.
Matthew chapter one, verse one. What is the Bible about? What is the book of Matthew about? Very simple, Matthew one verse one, “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ,…” and look at the next phrase, “… the son of David.” What is Matthew’s goal in his gospel? Very simple! To tell you Jesus is the promised Son of David. Jesus is the promised King. He is that Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. He's the One that God spoke about in the garden of Eden. He is the One who will come from Abraham's bloodline, who will be the source of blessing for all the world.
So it's a rich, theological concept that really ties the entire Old Testament together. When you understand that the Bible is about Jesus, and about how Jesus is predicted, prophesied, promised, from time old to now. You will say, “Hey, the Old Testament is really amazing! It is all about preparation of the coming King, the coming Saviour.” And so Matthew writes that in verse one, and then he says in verse 23 (Pastor meant to say verse 21), “For you shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.”
That's why I say to you, that these two blind men, they have 2020 vision. They were physically blind, but they were spiritually sharp. They knew that this poor carpenter's son is the very Messiah, the everlasting King. Now many people didn't see it, especially the Jewish religious leaders. They were blinded! They saw, they heard about Jesus's great miracles. They heard about his great preaching, but they do not recognize Him as the Messiah. They were blinded by arrogance and pride. But these blind men, reduced to nothingness in society had perfect vision, seeing that Jesus is the Christ.
Now very interesting, after they've made this plea, the people around them, were not very happy. Somehow, “They rebuked him.” [Luke 18:39] One of them, I suppose, it will not be wrong for us to think that they rebuked the both of them, telling them to be silent, shut up. You have no right to come to this Jesus. He's tired, He's going to Jerusalem, He's going to die soon. Don't come and disturb Him. “You are a nuisance! You guys are dirty!” Maybe that's why they refused these two men to cry to Jesus.
But these two blind men knowing that this is their one and only chance at salvation did not give up. The Bible says, “They cried out all the more, Son of David, have mercy on me.” [Luke 18:39] Well, when people turn these two men away, what would Jesus do?
3] Their Privilege
We see, finally in point three - their privilege. And what a privilege that in their lifetime, they would meet with Jesus, and Jesus would change their lives!
So the Bible tells us that Jesus stopped. He was heading towards Jerusalem, heading for the cross, in a few days’ time. But when He heard the cry of these blind men, miserable people, He stopped. And He called them and said, “What do you want me to do for you?” [Matthew 20:32] Well, they had a very simple request. They could have asked for everything, anything, Help me to be rich, help me to be this, help me to be that but they just asked, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” [Matthew 20:33]
“And then Jesus in pity touched their eyes and immediately they recovered their sight. [Matthew 20:34] Simple, almost plain vanilla miracle we read of over and over again in the Bible, in the New Testament, regarding Jesus. But I also think that not only did they get their sight, it is perhaps very likely that they also got saved from their sins.
In other words, they received salvation of their souls. Why? Because in Mark, it is said, “Go your way, your faith has made you well.” [Mark 10:52] The word, ‘well’ there, is the word, ‘sozo’ in the Greek. A word that is often used to refer to spiritual salvation. They are other words for physical healing in the Greek, but this is a word that can be used for spiritual healing, spiritual salvation and that's the word that is used - your faith has made you sozo.
And there are other hints in this passage that perhaps tell us that they have come to repentance and faith in Jesus. For example, “They followed Jesus.” [Matthew 20:34] Unlike the 10 lepers, you know that story, nine of them were healed of leprosy, but they didn't come back to Jesus, only one came back to Jesus.
And the Bible also says in Luke 18:43, “That they glorified God.” So that's it, that's the story! “Wah, pastor very early ah. Very good.” Okay, I say it's too early to let you go. So let me say a little bit more. Now, I want you to notice that it is worth our while thinking about why we should think a little bit more deeply. This miracle is very simple. I mean, there's really nothing complicated to it, right?
I hope you see that - simple, it's straightforward. But yet, it's an important miracle because it is a miracle repeated in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The three synoptic Gospels that look into the life of Christ. Not only that, this is the last healing miracle recorded in the Gospels. So it triggered my curiosity as to why would God inspire Matthew, Mark, Luke to record this as the last miracle. That, there's something significant about it, perhaps.
So as you think about it more deeply and as you think, especially about the context. Now, I think the beauty about going through the Bible in a sequential way, having expository preaching in a sequential way, is that you see something beyond just the text itself, you see the context of the text. You see the reason why this story is here. So let me suggest to you some three reasons why it's important for God to include this story right in this passage.
A] The Messiahship of Jesus
The first thing I think this story reminds me and tells me about is that it confirms, it affirms the Messiahship of Jesus. Jesus is going into Jerusalem soon. We, we know that as the triumphal entry. So it's almost like Matthew is saying, “Hey, I want you to really be sure, I want you to really know there's no doubt whatsoever, this is the Messiah. How do I know that? Look at the way he healed the blind.”
So what's so significant about healing the blind? I never knew this until I researched it, and read up on other commentators and scholar. And this is something I never knew. If you look at the entire Old Testament, they are healings of leprosy, there are even stories of raising the dead back to life. But there is no recorded incident of anyone blind, who is made to see.
It's amazing! Have you thought about that? There's no one in the Old Testament, who was blind and is now made to see. None! No miracle like that! No one could do that! And that's why in John, chapter 9:32, the man was healed of his blindness said, “Never since the world began, has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind.”
This is, this is an absolutely unique miracle. And actually if you think about it, no one else in the New Testament caused the blind to see. Not Paul, not Peter, no one else! Wow! And yet, healing of the blind is the most common miracle Jesus was recorded to do in the New Testament. See, I think the Bible is telling us, this is indeed the Messiah because these are the Messianic prophecies of old.
You must have read Isaiah before, it's a difficult book, no question. And so in the midst of the sixty, over 66 chapters, you will be lost in the details. But hey, you pull out the details and you pay attention and you'll realize that when it comes to the Messiah, God has said, “In that day when he comes, the deaf shall hear the words of a book and out of the gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see.” [Isaiah 29:18] That's how you know the Messiah has come!
Isaiah 35:5, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be open.” Isaiah 42, verse 7, “To open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison, those who sit in darkness.” So when Jesus went into the synagogue, He opened the Bible, that was the practice. That's how they worship, people enter the synagogue, open the Bible, that is the Old Testament then, they will read it.
And Jesus turned to Isaiah 61 and Isaiah 42. So He read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim Good News to the poor.” Ah, look at the second half, which we read in Isaiah 42. “He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind to set at liberty, those who are oppressed.” [Luke 4:18] And then He closed the book and says, “This day is scripture fulfilled in your ears.”
What is He saying? He's saying that I am the Messiah. And that's why the Jewish people upon hearing Him say that, wanted to kill Him, because they said, “That's blasphemous!” “How can a carpenter's son, be our Messiah King, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father?” But that's exactly the claim of Jesus and that's why Matthew wrote this story.
“I want you guys to know,” he's saying, “He is the Messiah, because no one else could open the eyes of the blind!” This work of opening the eyes of the blind is a kind I hope you realize, not just about physical healing, but a picture of spiritual healing. Because Jesus Himself would say, “I am the light of the world, whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” [John 8:12] When the Messiah comes, He will bring physical healing, but He will also give spiritual healing, that we may know God, we may know life, we may know how we can get back with Him once again.
So this is a significant miracle, because it authenticates and it pictures the Messiahship of Jesus. Can? Boleh? [can in Malay]
B]. The Mission of Jesus
Contextually, I also like to suggest that the reason why this story is included is because this demonstrates the mission of Jesus. What is the mission of Jesus?
He said earlier in Matthew 20, verse 28, just one verse earlier. He said, “Even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” So what this is saying is, or what I'm trying to tell you is - Jesus spoke about that to the disciples. He taught that to the disciples. Immediately, Matthew gives us an illustration of what He spoke about.
Jesus did not just tell people what to do, He did what He told people to do. He came to give His life a ransom for many. He gave His life to serve. And so the commentators would make great pains to remark that when you read Matthew 20, the Bible says, “He stopped, He took pity.” Oh, yes, He's going to the cross the next day. Oh not, the next day, but He's entering Jerusalem and facing the cross in a few days’ time. But He had time and He wanted to stop and meet the needs around Him.
Our Saviour is a Saviour, who did not come to be served but to serve. And so I want to remind Gospelighters, if we are followers of Jesus Christ, then that acid test is often our service. Now we are a church that, in a sense, delights in teaching and preaching the Word of God. I think if there's any one thing that you might have come for, you say, “Oh, what's a little bit more distinctive about this church would be that we preach the Bible.”
And I'm glad you want to learn the Bible. I want, I'm glad you want to know what God's Word has to say. I'm glad you are hungry for truth, and for doctrines and for rich theology. I think that's beautiful! But I think it's not good enough if we say we only study but we do not serve. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying at all, and I don't think it's Biblical at all for us to say, “Oh, we should only serve and don't bother about the Bible.” No, the Bible says, “Study to show yourself approved, a workman that needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
You need to study to serve. But it is dangerous if you only study and do not serve. It is also dangerous if you only serve and do not bother to study. But Christianity, is the, is distinctive, in that we are a people willing to serve, and I hope you will be. I see many people come but one of the laments I would say among some of our, our brothers and sisters, here is, “Ay Pastor, we seem to have more people come to church, but not many more serve.” It's still that 8020 rule. 80% watch the show, 20% do the show.
Now I hope that we do not have a spectator mindset because Christianity is not a spectator sport. Christianity is about following Jesus. What did He do? He was a spectator here on earth? He was a servant here on Earth. So if we say we want to follow Jesus, then let us be serving.
One of the greatest memories of my Christian life must be ministry in very simple ways. When I was just saved, I didn't know what I can do. And I was just looking for opportunities to be useful somehow. So for several years, what I did and I enjoyed doing it was to just come early to church services on Sunday. In those days, we didn't have our own place, we rented a place. And so a few of us, just a handful would come, we will set up the place, we will arrange the chairs. In those days, we don't have PowerPoint, we will arrange the hymnals and right after that we have a time of prayer. That's all I did.
But I was glad I could do a little to serve God. And of course, the Lord opened more doors for service and ministry and I think my Christian life would never be the same if never really got the opportunity to serve.
I say to you there are many opportunities to serve. Sometimes we think of, “Aiyoh, kena arrow by pastor. Jialat!” Now by the way, I, I don't arrow people in church. I, I if anything, you would say that I'm too laid back but I don't believe in arrowing. Yes, I may ask you to pray about something but I, I don't believe I'm God that should tell you what you should do. But we want you to understand that ministry is a privilege. Ministry is about discipleship. Serving people is a privilege. Greatness in the kingdom is seen in how we serve people. Simple as that!
And so look around you today. We have grown in attendance, there are a lot more people and I tell you correspondingly, there are a lot more needs. I see many single moms. It's not easy to be a mother, it's very hard to be a single mom. I see many special needs children. We, we didn't have many in the past, but now we have a lot more and you know, serving the special needs children is not an easy thing, you need a lot of personal attentiveness.
We have a lot of struggling families or even broken families. It takes a lot of time and attention and love. We have many needs, really around us, we have people in our church who do not know Jesus as yet. They think they are, they thought they are, they have been to church their whole life but they really do not know the Gospel. They need people to serve them in journeying with them in the Gospel.
There are people here who are spiritual babies. They've been in church but they are, they are just very inadequately discipled and taught and they need people to serve them. So let me ask, “Who's going to do all that?” “Pastor you lah” No, the Bible is very clear that the ministry is given to the saints. My role is to equip, that's it.
God has given the church pastor, teachers to equip the saints that they may do the work of the ministry. And I hope that as a church, you will not come to church as a spectator. You know, the 袖手旁观[xiù shǒu páng guān] There's this Chinese saying, 袖手旁观. What does it mean?
Because in those days, you know, the Chinese people they have this long sleeves, big sleeves and, and the officials, the VIPs, they walk around like this. Too important to show their hands lah! But the Christian message is show hands, roll up your sleeves, gird up your loins, take that basin and wash feet. So when you listen sermon, don't do this lah [pastor foils his arms], I can see you like …No, I'm kidding, I'm kidding. Ah listen, you can do this, after that, please roll up already. Be ready to serve alright, because greatness is seen in following Jesus and He came to give His life in service.
C] The Message of Jesus
Maybe the last thing I want to say about why I think this message is very appropriately placed here or this story is appropriately placed here, is because it reaffirms the message of Jesus. “What's the message,” you say? Well, I recall what Jesus said, He said, “Many who are first will be last and the last, first.” [Matthew 19:30]
You know, when the rich young ruler came to Jesus, nobody chased him away. After all, he's the rich, young ruler. He's the first in society. He's the one who is most qualified to talk to Jesus, so we won't bother him, we will let him talk. But when it came to the blind, despised miserable beggars, “Go away!” They are the last in society.
But in a sense, these two stories affirm the principle Jesus gave, that those who think they are first in this world end up last, because they are arrogant, they are proud, and they do not see their needs. But those who are last in this world, who are humble in this world, end up first because they come to Jesus, in true humility, repentance, and faith.
And I want to say to you, “If you today are like a Bartimaeus, you have messed up, you have sinned in your life, you feel dirty and unworthy. Hey, this is what this whole Bible is all about. Remember, it's all about God's amazing grace.” I am a great sinner, so are you. But we worship a great Saviour, who gave His life for those who do not deserve it.
So the message is - we can come like beggars. And we should come like beggars. We should come to God just as we are, this song just as I am. Come to God, just as I am poor, wretched, blind, recognize that, admit that, mourn over your sin and say, “Lord, I come. I need sight, I need riches.” This is not about physical riches, I hope you understand the intent of the author of the song. It's about spiritual life, spiritual riches, healing of the mind. Yes, all I need, in You, Jesus, I find O Lamb of God, I come.
It's recognizing that Jesus is that sacrificial lamb, who would soon go to the cross, die and bleed to save us from our sins. And today that's all you need to do. That's all you need to do. I ask that God will give you 20/20 vision, to know that Jesus is the Son of David. There is no name given under heaven whereby men may be saved, except the name, Jesus Christ. He is the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE, no one else comes to the Father, but by Him.
Would you today come like a beggar just as you are, as I did many years ago and receive that sight and receive that light, that you may know Him? Come back to the place of honour, all because of the grace of God.
Let's bow for a word of prayer together. The Bible is not a random collection of books. It's a beautiful, multi-coloured, multifaceted, piece of wonderful literature written by many authors. But all tied together with this glorious theme of the son of David.
Right in the beginning when man sinned against God, God in His mercy promised a glorious saviour who will crush the serpent's head. That focus is narrowed in a time of Abraham when God said in your descendants shall all nations be blessed, not just the Jews, but for all Gentiles as well. And then when it came to David's time, God narrowed that focus even further. It's not just in Abraham's family, but also in David's family line. In David's lineage, there will come this Saviour, who is also going to be an everlasting King.
And then when it came to Isaiah, he tells us, “He will be the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace.” So some centuries after that, when one night, the shepherds are out there in the fields, the angels appeared in the heavens, and gave that glorious herald and declaration - Glory to God in the highest and on earth. Peace, goodwill towards men, for unto you is given this day in the city of David, a saviour. Christ is born today.
Oh, who is this Christ? He's the Messiah. He's the son of David. He's the promised King. And so Matthew says, “This book is about the origin, the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David.” 2000 years since then, millions of people have since recognized with spiritual vision, that Jesus is the Christ. They have repented of their sins, believed in Him and have their lives changed.
Today, I pray it will be yours. Today, it will be your turn, to turn from your sin, to repent and to believe in this Messiah. My friends, because He is the only Way, Truth and the Life. Would you come to God and ask Him to save you?
Dear Gospelighters, it's great to study the Bible, it's great to go for Bible studies. It's wonderful to have rich theology. But I think it is terrible if all we do is to know and to learn, but we never serve. Then I'd say, “You have only read the Bible, you have not followed Jesus, because following Jesus is to do what He did, to give His life to serve.” Would you right here, right now think about how you can serve God?
Maybe in ministry, maybe in your family, maybe in your workplace, maybe in church, give your life to serve because that is the path to true greatness. That's the path of Jesus our Lord.
So Father, thank You today for Your Word, I pray it will be meaningful, helpful, most of all life changing as Your Spirit works and convicts our hearts. Bring to life many dead souls today, O God. Bring to a passion for You in many of Your people today. Make this church a serving people, make this congregation a saved people. Commit ourselves to You, bless Your people. We pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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