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Summary: The problem with carry-ons is that they restrict our Journey's freedom and hamper its progress.

“The Problem with Carry-Ons””

Zech. 3:1-5; Matthew 8:1-17

When we travel by air, we often cram as much as possible into a piece of carry-on luggage. While it may save time and the frustration of checking and retrieving baggage at the airport, it also slows us down. Because it’s crammed full, we cannot move about as quickly or as freely as we’d like, and it is often difficult to place it in the overhead bin. And certainly sitting down to eat, or using the restrooms, or window shopping at any of the airport stores is difficult because we have to find a way to hang on to the luggage. THE PROBLEM WITH CARRY-ONS IS THAT THEY RESTRICT OUR JOURNEY’S FREEDOM AND HAMPER ITS PROGRESS. They really are a burden. But it occurs to me that we should be used to extra weight – for we carry around a great deal of extra baggage most every day of our lives – just like people in Jesus’ day. Consider, as recorded in Matthew 8, a day in the life of Jesus.

All day long JESUS MET PEOPLE WITH BURDENS. Jesus had just finished preaching his exquisite, inspiring, challenging sermon on the mount. As he prepared to leave the mountainside, he immediately encountered A LEPER (1-4). A leper was a leper for life – there was no hope for recovery; lepers literally died an inch at a time, and it could take up to nine long, excruciatingly painful years to die. On top of that, the Jews considered lepers outcasts; they were disgraced and set apart, not only because the disease was contagious but also because leprosy was thought to be the result of sin in the leper’s life. Lepers were considered unclean; to touch one was to break law – the Jews believed that one must, in fact, be at least 18 inches away. But still this burdened, leprous man came boldly to Jesus pleading, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

And Jesus healed him. Jesus healed him by touching him. JESUS TOUCHED THE UNTOUCHABLE. He communicated tenderness, acceptance, and love. Note also that Jesus sent him to the local priest to have his healing verified and his social standing restored. He wanted this man to have total restoration. Jesus’ primary concern is always the wholeness, not just the healing, of a person. For Jesus, healing was equated with wholeness. This whole scene would have stunned the Jews! But Jesus was making a bold statement: “NO ONE IS EVER TOO UNCLEAN TO BE TOUCHED BY JESUS!” And His touch always pours forth healing.

Your sin may seem untouchable! Nothing you have ever done or ever will do can bar the touch of Jesus. What are you carrying around because of your sin? Of what are you ashamed? How heavy is your guilt? Do you feel unworthy of forgiveness and love, of the range and touch of Jesus? Do you fear His rejection? “No one is ever too unclean to be touched by Jesus!”

Jesus traveled down the road and encountered A BURDENED CENTURION (5-13). He was a Gentile officer in the Roman Army. So he had four strikes against him. First, to a Jew, Romans were the enemy. Second, a Gentile (a non-Jew) was merely fuel for fires of hell. And as if that was not bad enough, third, this soldier was asking on behalf of his slave, who was considered lower still! Slaves, to the Jew, were no more than pieces of property and to be treated as such. And, fourth, the slave was not even present before Jesus. But still the soldier came to Jesus and stated: “I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word and my servant will be healed.”

Jesus said, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And at that very moment the servant was healed. JESUS REACHED THE UNREACHABLE. This, too, would have shocked the Jews. Jesus was destroying every boundary, breaking down every wall. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, or where you’re from; it doesn’t matter if others reject you; it doesn’t matter if you feel you cannot get close to Jesus; it doesn’t matter how far away, or how distant you feel. NO ONE IS BEYOND THE REACH OF JESUS. Ever feel beyond His reach? Ever feel out of touch with Jesus? Ever wonder if you were important enough for Jesus to take time for you? Belief is the key that unlocks the storeroom of Jesus’ healing power. Just ask Jesus to say the word - and a healing word from Jesus will reach you.

Jesus resumed His journey until He came the Peter’s house, where He encountered PETER’S FEVER-RIDDEN MOTHER-IN-LAW (14-15). She was burdened and bed-ridden because of her fever. She never asked for healing; but Jesus had compassion and touched her hand; and the fever left her. Nothing too provocative – until we recognize Jesus touched and healed a woman; He unburdened another excluded person! Once again JESUS INCLUDED THE EXCLUDED! In the Jewish society of that day, women were never, considered important. They were basically powerless. But Jesus didn’t buy into that exclusiveness. Jesus can’t stand sickness and brokenness – no matter whom the victim is; Jesus cannot hold back His heart in the face of burdens. Have you ever been left out, or felt excluded? Do you feel unacceptable because of your sex, your status, your job, your family situation, your social standing, your lack of talent, your age, your disability or your handicap? JESUS ACCEPTS THE UNACCEPTABLE. And He doesn’t need a crowd to pour forth His healing power; He doesn’t even need our asking – sometimes Jesus just shows up, unburdens, heals and restores!

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