Summary: Christ explains the new rules of the Kingdom of God.
“The Mission of the Kingdom”
Sunday, July 2, 2006
Matthew Chapter 9 Verses 9-13, 35-38
There’s a movie out now called Mission Impossible 3. I am not much of a fan of these movies but I do remember watching re-runs of the television show, the originals were a bit before my time. Each episode began with the main character receiving a message that contained the mission. The message would begin with the words, your mission, should you choose to accept it, and then it would go on and describe a seemingly impossible task that the main character would always manage to pull off in the amount of time it took to play one episode. Once the mission was given, the message would always self-destruct so that it would not fall into the wrong hands. There’s something exciting about the idea of a mission that needs to be completed, when I was little my brother and I would pretend to be spies on a secret mission to save the world. I always made sure that he died at some point during the mission so that I could save the world alone! It was good being the older brother!
A mission that seems impossible, a mission to save the world, that’s exactly the reason that Jesus came to Earth. In terms of human thinking, his task was not possible. He was to come to Earth, live without sinning even once, allow the men that He created to kill Him and then conquer death and hell by rising again. When all of that was complete, man would be restored to God through this mission. What was lost would be found, what was far off would be brought near, those who were called sinners would be now be called sons. To us, this looks impossible and for us, it is. Jesus, himself, confirms this later in Matthew chapter 19, when speaking of Salvation, he says: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
So, Christ has come so that Mission Impossible might become Mission Accomplished. In the section that we are going to be looking at this morning in Chapter 9, He reveals the Mission of the Kingdom in three ways. He still has not given much detail about how the mission will be accomplished or the role that He will play in bringing it about, but he leaves no doubt that His mission is to save sinners. That’s why He came, that was the mission that he accepted.
He puts it very clearly in another gospel, in Luke 19:10: For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." He came for us.
Before we look at the mission as it’s revealed in this chapter, I want to look quickly at what else we have going on in this chapter. Last week you looked at the miracles that Jesus was performing. He is beginning to show the authority that was His. Despite the signs, despite the wonders, despite the display of authority over the spiritual realm, people still weren’t catching on to who this man really was. In the first part of this chapter we see Jesus interacting with a paralytic in His own town, the place where He grew up. Jesus leans down over this man and does something that sets off some fireworks. Instead of simply healing the man as he had been doing throughout the towns and countryside, He tells the man that His sins are forgiven. Jesus has been displaying the power of God for the people, but now, He is claiming not just the power from God but He is claiming the same authority as God to forgive sins, this is the first real instance where Jesus claims divinity through His words and actions. Only God can forgive sins. Jesus does not tell him, Son, God has forgiven your sins. He tells him that they are forgiven, and says that He has the authority to do this, that Jesus has forgiven him. There is tremendous weight and meaning behind these words. Jesus is taking upon himself an attribute that is God’s alone, the authority to forgive sin.
The Pharisees pick up on this immediately. They are enraged and accuse Jesus of blasphemy, a sin that was punishable by death in those days. Jesus replies to them in verses 4-7.
"Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Which is easier: to say, `Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, `Get up and walk’? 6 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . ." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home." 7 And the man got up and went home.