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Author:Rev. Todd Bordow
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Congregation:Covenant Orthodox Presbyterian Church
 Fort Worth, Texas
 www.opcfw.com
 
Title:The Miracles of the King
Text:Matthew 4:23-25 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Miracles
 
Added:2005-12-20
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Todd Bordow, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


We are surrounded by excessive talk of miracles in our day. As a result we may have become dulled to the glory of our passage this morning. We have so many claiming to be able to perform miracles that we forget how unique and marvelous Jesus was to Israelites.

We may not appreciate the marvel of Jesus' miracles, but the multitudes in Israel surely did. The news of Jesus' miracles quickly spread throughout the nation; soon Israelites from all over brought their sick and possessed to the Lord to be healed. We must try to enter into their same marvel that we might be filled with the same joy.

Matthew summarizes the ministry of the Lord Jesus as preaching the good news of the kingdom and doing miracles. Now we don't have problems with the fact that Jesus preached, we know he came to preach the gospel; but what do we do with all these miracles?

It would be a mistake to conclude from these healing miracles that Jesus came to give people good health. We have already seen that the subject of his preaching was the kingdom of heaven. These miracles, as wonderful as they were, did not help anyone get into the kingdom of heaven.

Yes, people were temporarily healed from certain diseases, but over time these same people would get sick again and eventually die. Those healings did nothing to help the people after they died; the miracles could bring no one into the kingdom of heaven.

So why then did Jesus perform such miracles as he preached the gospel? Well, first of all, these miracles confirmed Jesus' identity. In the Old Testament God promised to send a Savior to the world. This Savior was to be an Israelite.

But how would the people know who that deliverer was? Anybody in Israel could stand up and say, "I am the Savior." As a matter of fact, many men before Christ had risen up and claimed they were Israel's promised deliverer. These men did not claim to do miracles, they claimed to be able to lead Israel in victory against the Roman army. But the question was, how would the people know who the true Savior was?

Isaiah 35 answered that question. A thousand years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah wrote of the coming one. Here is how you will recognize the Savior when he arrives. The eyes of the blind will be open, the deaf will hear, the lame shall leap with joy, and the mute will talk again. The people of Israel were to see Jesus' miracles, remember Isaiah 35, and put two and two together. This is the Savior the Old Testament promised. Jesus' miracles confirmed that he was truly the promised Savior.

We learn even more about Jesus' identity as we consider the manner in which Jesus performed these miracles. In the Old Testament a select few were given the power to do miracles. It is clear that these men had no power in themselves. God had given them brief power to perform their miracles, such as God giving Moses the power to turn the Nile into blood.

But the manner in which Jesus performs his miracles sets him apart from any in the OT who performed miracles. Jesus does not pray for power like the OT prophets did. Jesus has power in himself. Jesus simply desires to do a miracle and it is done. He speaks them into existence as God spoke the world into existence. These miracles reveal that Christ is not only a man, he is God in the flesh.

Now we often use the word "miracle" in a non-technical manner to describe almost anything amazing or unusual. Because we speak like this we fail to appreciate the significance of what Jesus was doing. In the Bible miracles serve a very specific purpose. Miracles confirmed the authority and message of a person God has sent.

As common as it is to associate God with miracles, in actuality miracles are very rare in the Bible. When you think of the thousand of years of Old Testament history, there were very few men who performed miracles. Adam and Eve performed no miracles. Noah performed no miracles. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob performed no miracles.

But then God raised up a deliverer for Israel, Moses. When God instructed Moses to go back to Egypt and deliver Israel, Moses rightly asked, how are they going to know that you have sent me? Good question. God's answer; I will do miracles through you, and then Israel will know I have sent you.

The Lord performed a number of miracles through Moses to confirm that God truly sent him. Israel had no excuse in not listening to Moses. God had confirmed through the miracles that Moses was sent by God.

After Israel entered the Promised Land, the miracles ceased. For the next thousand years no one performed miracles in Israel. There was no need, for Israel had the Law of Moses, and God was not doing anything new that needed to be confirmed. The prophets simply preached the words of the Bible.

But then God sent Elijah and Elijah to pronounce judgment on Israel. God was about to do something new to the Northern Kingdom of Israel; he was going to exile them out of the land.

How would Israel know that these prophets were speaking the truth about this exile? God gave these two prophets the ability to perform certain miracles. After Elijah and Elisha, no one else performed miracles in the entire Old Testament era. Neither David, nor Solomon, or any of the kings of Israel were given the power to do miracles.

So more than a thousand years passed without hardly any miracles. Then Jesus arrives in Galilee. Jesus traveled the hills of Galilee performing abundant and glorious miracles unlike ever seen in the world.

Now do you get a sense of the marvel experienced by those Israelites? God must be doing something new and glorious with the coming of Christ. This man must be greater than any of the prophets who had come before.

Now after Christ rose again miracles the Apostles were given a limited power to perform miracles, because they were official ambassadors to bring Christ's gospel to the people. Their word was God's word.

But the Apostles only rarely performed miracles, and when they wrote their letters to the churches they never even mentioned that we should expect any miracles. Once the Apostles ceased, the miracles that confirmed their authority also ceased. With a proper understanding of miracles, we can confidently say that God does not do miracles anymore.

We do not mean by this that God never does anything out of the ordinary. We mean that in the Bible miracles had a specific purpose, to confirm a new message and a new messenger. God has already sent Jesus, and there are no more Apostles, and we have the completed written word of God. There is no more reason to confirm anything with miracles. To say that someone performs miracles today is to say that God has sent a new prophet with a new message. But Hebrews 1:1 assures us that God has spoken his final word in Jesus Christ.

So the first reason for these miracles is to assure people that Jesus was truly the promised Savior, the son of man and Son of God. These miracles were God's way of saying, "listen to this man, I have sent him."

But there is a second reason Jesus performed these miracles. Jesus' miracles illustrated what he was preaching; they illustrated the work he had come to accomplish.

Jesus came preaching the kingdom of heaven. His miracles illustrated the nature of this kingdom. Jesus' kingdom comes with power. Jesus did not come simply to give us ethical laws to live by. Jesus came to do something powerful in the lives of people, he came to redeem people dead to sin and given them new life; to make them members of the kingdom of heaven.

The miracles themselves were pictures of what Jesus would do for sinners through the gospel. It is not by accident that Matthew in his word order gives prominence to Jesus' preaching over his miracles. The preaching is always mentioned before the miracles. Miracles could do nothing for your sinful condition. The gospel Jesus was preaching was the real power.

This is what is so sad about this passage. Thousands were coming to Jesus to be healed, or to have a loved one healed. But when it came to hearing his message of the gospel, the majority ignored him. They simply wanted help in this life. They received a temporary benefit from his miracles, but remained dead in sin and under God's judgment.

Jesus' miracles illustrated to the people the power of his gospel. Jesus came to free us eternally from the curse and from the domain of the evil one. Every miracle Jesus performed was a picture of Jesus reversing the effects of the curse and defeating the power of Satan over people.

In the Bible, sickness and demon possession were results of the fall of man, results of the devil tempting Adam to sin. Jesus' miracles freed people from Satan's hold. But the miracles themselves were only pictures of the spiritual freedom Jesus came to accomplish for sinners.

Jesus was not preaching about healing. He was preaching the good news of the kingdom. The good news of the kingdom was the gospel; that Jesus had come to die on the cross for sinners, and through faith in him you are saved from judgment, and you will live forever blessed with God.

That is why Jesus' miracles all focused on helping people. He didn't perform signs up in the skies, or make animals talk, or make things disappear. Jesus miracles were directed at helping people because that is why he came, to free sinners from sin and judgment and give them a new heart. Jesus came to serve people by setting them free; his miracles were pictures of that freedom.

The people of Israel were to look beyond the picture to the reality. They were to say, if Jesus can free me from this temporary disease, then maybe he can deal with my sin. Maybe he can fee me from the judgment I deserve and bring me into his heavenly kingdom.

Jesus' miracles even illustrated how Christ would free sinners from judgment. Remember when Jesus healed the leper by touching him? When Jesus touched the leper he became unclean according to the Mosaic Law. Our Lord used this event as an illustration of his death on the cross. Jesus would cleanse sinners sin by taking their sin upon himself, just as he became ceremonially unclean as he cleansed the leper.

So you see why God doesn't heal us supernaturally anymore? As Christians we have already received what those miracles pictured. We have been freed from condemnation and made members of God's heavenly kingdom.

Our bodies are not healed today because Rev 21 says that when we are brought into the new heavens and earth, then there will be no more curse. So the outward miracles of Jesus pictured what he does for us inwardly through the gospel.

But they also picture the result of his work outwardly when he returns. When Jesus returns all of our bodies in Christ will be made whole, just as our spirits have been made whole when we were redeemed.

And so as believers in Christ you are to walk by faith and not by sight. These miracles of Christ assure you that Jesus is truly the savior sent by God. These miracles assure you that the gospel he preached is powerful enough to save you eternally.

These miracles illustrate for you what God has done for you inwardly, that through Christ's death and resurrection he has freed you from the dominion of sin and death. And these miracles remind you that as your souls have already been cleansed, your bodies also will one day be renewed.

But now you are called to walk by faith and not by sight. Not walking by sight means you are not to expect the supernatural. Jesus said, blessed are those who do not see yet believe.

Walking by faith is not easy. It would be nice to see miracles, but Jesus promised us more blessings for not seeing miracles. As those who have trusted in Christ for salvation, God is present with you always; you do not need miracles to confirm God's promise.

But you do need to be constantly reminded of the gospel and his promises to you, that you would not lose your assurance of his love. It is the teaching of the gospel in his Word that assures your soul, not the supernatural. The gospel is the power of God that changes you on the inside.

And so maybe now you will not be so dulled to the glory of Jesus' ministry that included performing these miracles. Those miracles were unique glorying the person and work of the one and only Savior.

But the most glorious miracles are not miracles of healing. The miracles that these healing miracles pictured are sitting next to you right now. These miracles are sinners who God has redeemed through the death of his Son. Sinners right next to you who have been forgiven, washed clean, and made members of God's eternal kingdom. You are God's most glorious miracle. May you never lose your marvel at the power of the gospel that has saved you forever! Amen




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Todd Bordow, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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