Monday, April 18, 2016

Lesson 4: "Get Up and Walk!"

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Matthew

Lesson 4: "Get Up and Walk!"

It's fascinating to go through the Gospels in the New Testament. The first book, the Gospel of Matthew, begins with an introduction, with these interesting words: "the historical record of Jesus Christ." This Gospel was written from a strong Jewish perspective to show that Jesus truly is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament.
Interestingly, this is the season in the United States for preparing tax forms. There are some "lucky" souls who are getting money back while others are calculated to have to pay the government. So, let's get acquainted with Matthew. He is well noted as a publican and a tax collector, a despised profession in Palestine. His name was really Levi, the tax collector, probably a shrewd person of his profession in collecting money from every single person. In Mark 2:14-17, we see how Levi accepted Jesus' recruitment in following Him. And as a result, Jesus named him Matthew, meaning in Hebrew, "Gift of God," after Levi chose to follow Jesus, along with other disciples who had newly joined.
In the book of Matthew, there are recorded numerous accounts of Jesus' healings—at least sixteen episodes worth reading:
• Healing the Leper in Galilee (8:1-4).
• Roman Centurion for paralyzed servant, at Capernaum (8:5-13).
• Peter's mother-in-law, sick with fever, at Capernaum (8:14-15).
• Two demoniacs at a tomb, near Gadarenes (8:28-34).
• Paralytic at Capernaum (9:2-8).
• Jairus' daughter at Capernaum (9:18-19).
• Woman with issue of blood at Capernaum (9:20-22).
• Two blind men at Capernaum (9:27-31).
• Mute demoniac in Galilee (Matt. 9:32-34).
• Man with a withered hand, at Synagogue at Capernaum (12:10-13).
• Blind, deaf demoniac in Galilee (12:22-24).
• Miraculous healings at Gennesaret (14:34-36).
• Gentile woman's demoniac daughter, in the Region of Tyre and Sidon (15:21-28).
• Healing of multitudes near the eastern shore of Galilee to Decapolis (15:29-31).
• Epileptic son near the town of Caesarea Philippi (17:14-21).
• Two blind men departing Jericho (20:29-34).
Please note the amount of faith emphasized in each of these healings, and how unbelief changed to miraculous faith in those who had seen darkness change to radiant light and those who experienced deafness to hearing.
There is a heart-moving story in Matthew 8:5-13 about a Roman centurion, who exemplified New Testament faith, faith "which worketh by love [agape]" (Gal. 5:6), one of the key elements of the 1888 message. The centurion was a Gentile military officer, who presented to Jesus his bedridden paralyzed servant, who was very dear to him. The centurion was amazed at Jesus' offer to go to his home to heal the servant. During that time, according to Jewish law Jews were banned from entering the home of a Gentile. Of course, it was a shock to the centurion that Jesus would have compassion on a Gentile like him, to heal his servant in his home; he would not want any disturbance in the community that would harm Jesus.
This is the picture not only of God's redeeming love to all mankind, but one of amazing faith that Jesus had never seen in anyone like this centurion, who just preferred to hear Jesus say the order of command to send him home, in believing his servant be healed. Jesus' words to the centurion were, "Go, as you have believed, let it be done for you," and the servant was healed from that very moment. That was amazing faith on the part of the centurion, one that Jesus had to teach his disciples on the topic, lessons on faith.
The lessons we see from the centurion are:
(1) He understands his sinfulness in the light of Christ's righteousness, for he said two things: "I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter under my roof" and "neither thought I myself worthy to come unto thee" (Luke 7:6, 7). The centurion's faith was a total mental trust, a heart appreciation.
(2) There was an unusual love that filled this centurion's heart, being concerned for his servant, and not for himself. This is the faith that transformed him from selfishness, as not I but Christ.
E. J. Waggoner, one of the 1888 "messengers, wrote a short one-paragraph essay about the centurion's faith: [1]
"There was one thing at which our Lord Himself marvelled while here on the earth, and that was unbelief. Many things caused great surprise to His disciples and the multitudes that attended Him, but the most surprising thing to Christ Himself was the blindness and hardness of the human heart. This so hindered in His own country that He could do no mighty work there; and "He marvelled because of their unbelief" (Mark 6:5, 6). Also when He healed the centurion's servant (Luke 7:2-9) He marvelled, not because the centurion had faith, but because His own people had less faith than did this Roman. Unbelief is a stranger thing than is the mightiest miracle ever performed; because there has been a cause for every miracle, but for unbelief there is no cause. It is not strange that God can do most astonishing things, for He is omnipotent and omniscient; but it is strange indeed that man will not believe His word. It is so strange as to be absolutely without reason. Do you believe the Lord? If not, why not?"
Waggoner, in another article [2], wrote that the account of the healing of the centurion's servant is given by both Matthew and Luke, the latter writer giving some points which are omitted by the former. He says that to get the full narrative, both accounts should be read together because the reader might suppose that the two accounts conflict, but there is no contradiction.
This story helps us understand that the essential ingredient of all true miracle healing is faith, a heart appreciation for the sacrifice of Christ. And the fact that Jesus' word, as soon as He says it is done. I too need to grow from my little faith to realize the amazing element of faith in healing.
This was the very Gospel message that reached the heart of a young Japanese friend named Sadako, who rejoices in how such faith of Jesus would heal and restore the darkness in this world around us. This is more than what I experienced in the medical field when I was working in the hospital, with patients of all kinds of ailments and diseases. And even in my journey to the Holy Land, touring all the places that Jesus walked where the very healings that took place, no matter what you are, a homeless person, a filthy wretched person, or such a worm as I, it just amazes me to realize that we are considered a valuable ownership with Him, a loving Saviour. Such love and grace increases my faith in knowing that we have the Great Physician in restoring our heart, soul, and unbelief.
Mary Chun
[1] E. J. Waggoner, "A Marvellous Thing," The Present Truth, Sept. 20, 1894.
[2] E. J. Waggoner, "The Commentary. Notes on the International Lesson. The Centurion's Faith," The Signs of the Times, Sept. 15, 1887.