Summary: If we want to be people of faith we need to put our faith to work.
A Messiah of Faith
Text: Matt. 8:1-17
1. Illustration: One night, I had a wondrous dream; One set of footprints there was seen. The footprints of my precious Lord, But mine were not along the shore. But then some stranger prints appeared, And I asked the Lord, "What have we here?" "Those prints are large and round and neat, But, Lord, they are too big for feet." "My child," He said in somber tones. "For miles I carried you alone. I challenged you to walk in faith, But you refused and made me wait. You disobeyed, you would not grow, The walk-of-faith you would not know. So I got tired and fed up, And there I dropped you on your butt, Because in life, there comes a time, When one must fight, and one must climb, When one must rise and take a stand, Or leave their butt prints in the sand."
2. One of the most important concepts that a Christian must learn is faith.
a. Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
b. Faith is more than believing God exists; that is only the first step of faith.
c. Faith requires acting on what we believe.
3. There are three aspects of faith that I would like us to consider this morning.
a. The audacity of faith
b. The confidence of faith
c. The effect of faith
4. Read Matt. 8:1-17
Proposition: If we want to be people of faith we need to put our faith to work.
Transition: We must understand...
I. The Audacity of Faith (1-4)
A. A Man With Leprosy Approached
1. This morning we will examine three different healing narratives. The first one deals with a man whose desperation led him to be audacious in his faith.
2. Matthew tells us that, "Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him..." and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”
a. Leprosy was an unattractive skin disease for which the Bible had prescribed quarantine from the rest of society.
b. Lepers were thus outcasts from society, and most healthy people preferred to ignore them (The IVP Bible Background Commentary – New Testament).
c. If found to be leprous, the diseased individual was to be isolated from the rest of the community and was required to wear torn clothes, cover the lower part of his or her face, and cry out, "Unclean! Unclean!" (Wilkins, NIV Application Commentary, New Testament: Matthew, 340).
d. For this leper even to approach Jesus was audacious!
3. However, this lepers take his audacious faith one step further because he "knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.”
a. Bowing down before another person was a great act of respect for the others dignity, especially for a Jewish person.
b. Moreover, this leper not only shows physical signs of respect toward Jesus; he acknowledges that Jesus has the right to decide whether to grant the request.
c. To acknowledge that God has the right to grant or refuse a request is not lack of faith; it is the ultimate act of dependence on God’s compassion and takes great trust and commitment for a desperate person.
d. Sometimes we pray passively, almost unconcerned as to whether God hears a particular prayer or not; the leper did not have this luxury. Jesus was his only choice!
4. Jesus, touched in his own spirit by this man’s audacious faith, does something unheard of in his society. "Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared."
a. Jesus’ willingness, not his touch, was all that was needed for the healing to take place, but Jesus’ touch was probably the first human touch he had experience since his illness began (Turner, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: Matthew, 124).
b. Jewish law forbade touching lepers and quarantined lepers from regular society.
c. Leviticus 13:45-46 (NLT)
45 “Those who suffer from a serious skin disease must tear their clothing and leave their hair uncombed. They must cover their mouth and call out, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’
46 As long as the serious disease lasts, they will be ceremonially unclean. They must live in isolation in their place outside the camp.
d. Some ruled that the defilement of leprosy was one of the greatest defilements, for a leper could communicate it even by entering a house.
e. Yet by touching Jesus does not actually undermine the law of Moses, but fulfills its purpose by providing cleansing.
5. What Jesus does next is almost as surprising. He says, “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”