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Snapshots of Power, Far and Near, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
April 21, 2021 7:05 am

Snapshots of Power, Far and Near, Part 1

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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April 21, 2021 7:05 am

The King’s Kingdom: A Study of Matthew 8–13

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Following His famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus came down from the hillside and walked to Capernaum. Along His journey, Jesus encountered a number of different people who desperately sought His good favor. They pled with Jesus to grant them or someone they loved a healing touch. Well, in these dramatic encounters, God's grace and mercy were on display. And today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll helps us see the connection between the real-life stories in Matthew 8 and contemporary stories unfolding today as well.

Chuck titled today's message, Snapshots of Power Far and Near. Let's look at Matthew 8 verses 5 through 17, 13 verses that cover three vignettes along the journey of Jesus as He dealt with three impossible situations by His power, which is on display in these, I call these snapshots that we find in these verses. Matthew 8, 5, when Jesus returned to Capernaum, a centurion came and pleaded with Him. Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain. Jesus said, I will come and heal him.

But the officer said, Lord, I'm not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers and I have authority over my soldiers.

I only need to say go and they go or come and they come. And if I say to my slaves, do this, they do it. When Jesus heard this, He was amazed. Turning to those who were following Him, He said, I tell you the truth, I haven't seen faith like this in all Israel. And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world, from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven.

But many Israelites, those for whom the kingdom was prepared, will be thrown into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, go back home because you believed it has happened. And the young servant was healed that same hour. When Jesus arrived at Peter's house, Peter's mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. But when Jesus touched her hand, the fever left her.

Then she got up and prepared a meal for him. That evening, many demonized people were brought to Jesus. He cast out the evil spirits with a simple command and He healed all the sick. This fulfilled the word of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah who said, He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases. You're listening to Insight for Living. To study the book of Matthew with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scripture studies by going to slash studies.

And now the message from Chuck titled Snapshots of Power Far and Near. What a task the disciples had when they sat down to write the story of Jesus. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John did not attempt to be exhaustive, but selective.

Selective in their approach. It would be like you and me going on vacation together and we would carry our cameras with us. We would take different shots of different scenes.

You would see one vignette and in the same area I would see another angle and I would take my shot from this angle. It would be the same trip, it would be the same event, but we would look at it through different eyes. Certain things would appeal to us in different ways and that's the way it was with the disciples. That explains why Matthew will mention something very important for his theme as he carries it out through his book.

Luke may choose to mention it as well, but not Mark. John may see it from a whole different perspective. We wouldn't think it would be strange if when we come back from the trip, my book that has the pictures all neatly arranged according to the places we visited would be different from your book.

They would be the same places. Interestingly, they would be the same events as they transpired, but neither one of them would be like a movie carrying one scene to the next to the next to the next. There is no such record of the life and ministry of Jesus.

All we have are snapshots or vignettes as if taken by a digital camera at various points along the way. When we come to chapter 8 of Matthew, there's no exception. In fact, there are three stories, not one, each apparently it seems, happening on the very same day. One is an impossible situation regarding a servant of a centurion, an officer in a Roman army.

The other is a mother-in-law whose name is not given in the home of Peter, his mother-in-law. And then it ends toward evening when a group of people come with very serious needs, some with demons, others with maddening issues of a social nature. I'll explain that further a little later. But what we have are occasions when the power of Jesus Christ goes to work, the power of Jesus.

Whether it's at a distance, in the case of the servant of the centurion, or up close and personal, as in the case of Peter's mother-in-law, or out in the street with a large number of people, none of them named, none of the diseases identified. But in each case, each one is solved by the power, the awesome power of Jesus. So a good place to start would be a simple definition.

Let's start there. What do I mean when I refer to the power of Jesus? I would give you this statement as my own definition. Jesus can do whatever he wishes, whenever he chooses, always within his plan and purpose, for his glory and our good.

Again, Jesus can do whatever he wishes, whenever he chooses, always within his plan and purpose, for his glory and for our good. Well, I'll be honest, with you and my study, I thought that would do, and I would leave it there and go no further. But I couldn't do it, so I wrote a paper.

There it is, right there. Yep, I decided I need to dig into this, so I spent several hours doing it. I really didn't have any book to go by, anything to guide me. I just gathered up what I knew, and using the scriptures, and some things I've learned from those far brighter than I, I put together a paper I titled The Awesome Power of Jesus. If it weren't important, I wouldn't read it, but I think we all need to hear it.

Listen carefully. When we consider the power of Jesus, we're talking about divine power, supernatural power. He, being undiminished deity, possesses all the attributes that are true of God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. The word for divine power is omnipotent, from the Latin omni meaning all and potens meaning powerful. He's all powerful. What does it mean?

His divine power represents the ability to do anything that is according to his will at any time that fits into his ultimate plan and purpose. No obstacle is insurmountable. No circumstance is impossible.

No situation is unapproachable. No person is unchangeable. And no problem is unsolvable. Should it be his will, he's able to heal any sickness, any disease. He's able to stop any addiction, relieve any physical challenge or emotional damages and every mental disorder. When he does not do so, it isn't because he lacks the power, but because it isn't his will. Nothing that struggles against his will poses a barrier. No force can resist what he wants accomplished whenever he wishes it so. No enemy is a threat. No being, human or demonic, can withstand his sovereign control or alter his perfect will.

Now listen carefully. The power of Jesus is unlimited, independent, absolute and authoritative. Though it is often invisible, it is always invincible. When it is displayed among us, it occasionally reveals itself in the form of a miracle. In spite of popular opinion, divine miracles are extremely rare in our day, though they still do take place.

When they do, almost without exception, the results are immediate, complete, phenomenal, unexpected and inexplicable. His timing is not linked to our clock or our calendar, and his plan is not based on our logic. His reason, more often than not, are unsearchable. His strength is inexhaustible. The depths of his ways are unfathomable, and the breadth of his magnificent greatness, incomprehensible.

In addition to these characteristics of his undiminished deity, Jesus remains true humanity, which means, while all-powerful, he is still ever compassionate, always concerned over our weaknesses, ready to forgive us as he shows us mercy and deals with us in grace. In light of this meager attempt to define his power, it is no wonder. I urge each of us to reserve one word in our vocabulary for God and God alone. And that word is? Good for you.

Nine of you remembered. Awesome. Awesome. Only God is awesome. Only Jesus is awesome. Only the Spirit of God is awesome. The work that is done by the Godhead is always awesome work. All inspiring, usually making us quiet as we let the wonder in. So we come to these three vignettes, and we want to closely observe his power at work, though the word doesn't once appear.

It is at work. It is invisible, yet invincible. This is where our outline comes in. I want you to see that. The first is an occasion which we find healing at a distance. And in that vignette, we'll answer four questions. Who, where, what, and how. In the next little vignette, we have healing up close and personal. Same four questions will be answered. And in the last, we have a number of people who came to him ultimately finding relief, and the same four questions will be answered. So here we go. Healing from a distance.

What do I mean by that? The one who is in need is away from Jesus. Jesus never meets him or sees him.

He doesn't need to. He is not only omnipotent, he is omnipresent, at least in spirit. Though he is in one place at one time while on earth, he can work in places all around the world, and he does so. We'll return to this in a little more detail later, but first, who is involved?

Look closely. When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a centurion came and pleaded with him, Lord, my servant lies in bed paralyzed and in terrible pain. So the who, under this first point, would be the servant of the centurion, where he is in bed at the centurion's home. What is it that he's dealing with? He's paralyzed and he's in great pain. And how is it Jesus deals with him?

We'll see. First, the centurion. We don't have that title today because none of our military officers are called by the rank of centurion. It's a Roman soldier's title. In the Roman army, it was divided into legions, numbering 6,000 soldiers. The legions were divided into centuries.

You know from our words, century, that would represent 100 soldiers. So the 6,000 in a legion would have these centurions in charge, one per 100 group of men. The centurions were officers, career officers, we would call them. Interestingly, every time centurions are mentioned in the New Testament, they are handled with a measure of dignity.

We don't read of an evil centurion. I'm sure there were evil, mean ones, brutal ones. They certainly were seasoned soldiers. But they all fill roles that are somewhat respectable, as in this case.

One man writes, the centurion was one of the most attractive characters in the Gospels. They were the backbone of the Roman army. They must not be so much venturesome seekers after danger as men who can command, steady in action and battle and reliable. They ought not to be overanxious to rush into the fight. But when hard pressed, they must be ready to hold their ground and die at their posts. Centurions were the finest men in the Roman army.

Here's one of them. We don't know if he ever had met Jesus. We know for sure he's a gentile because he's in the Roman army, but also because of what Jesus says later. He is a man who answers to one in authority over him.

He has people under him who answer to him. So he understands authority, which plays a major role in this story and shapes why the centurion says what he does when there is this dialogue. Interesting thing about this centurion, he's mentioned in Luke 7 in a correlated passage, we'll not turn. But sometime when you have the chance, turn to the first 10 verses of Luke 7 and you'll see a whole other slice of the centurion.

Remember the snapshots? Luke's snapshot of the centurion is a man who cares very much about the Jews. In fact, Luke tells us this centurion built a synagogue in the community of the Jews where he lived.

Look at that. A man in a Roman army seen by Jews as swine often and Jews discounted in the eyes of Romans, but this is a different man. He cares about the Jews.

His interest in his servant is obvious because he's asking for healing. You know who he reminded me of? I did a little quick study on him, Oscar Schenler. Name ring a bell?

Of course it does. Most of us have seen Schenler's List, a movie about a man who was a member of the Nazi party who set out to be very wealthy as he purchased an enamel factory and hired Jews to work there. But as the war went on, it became obvious that there was an extermination plan that came from Hitler down through the SS troops and the officers to exterminate the Jews. We believe that Schenler was responsible for saving the lives of at least 1,200 Jews. What a man.

Why? Because he cared about his workers. He was interested in their safety.

He didn't want to see them killed. So he paid bribes to the officers who would otherwise bring their crew in to clear out all the Jews. But because they were paid off, Schenler protected them from extermination. He continued to bribe them all the way to the end of World War II. And in May of 1945, by that time, he had spent his entire fortune to protect the Jews. He later moved to Argentina with his wife and ultimately died virtually bankrupt. Interestingly, he was named Righteous Among the Nations by the Israeli government in 1963. He died in October of 1974. Guess where he was buried? In Jerusalem on Mount Zion. The only member of the Nazi party honored in this way.

How interesting. He cared about the Jews. And he, like Corey Ten Boom's father, was known for his protection of the people. When you travel to the Yad Vashem Museum in Israel, the Holocaust Museum, you will see not far from there a row of trees planted in honor of those who protected Jews. You'll see rocks stacked at the base of the trees brought by people who wanted to show their respect. You must visit the place.

You cannot leave without tears. Schindler has a tree there. The rocks are numerous. Corey Ten Boom had so many rocks, it killed the tree. He had to plant another one.

Her tree is there. The centurion loves the Jews. And he cares about his servants, so he has a heart.

And please notice how it comes to the surface. Jesus says right away, I will come and I will heal him. But the officer said, no, no, no, no, no, not necessary. Lord, I'm not worthy to have you come into my home. Look at the humility. This is an officer in the Roman army.

Not known normally for humility, but this man. I'm not worthy to have you cast a shadow at my front door. Just look at this. Just say the word from where you are, my servant will be healed.

Oh, man, I love that. All you need to do is say the word and he'll be up doing fine. I know this. I know you don't have to come because I am under the authority of my superior officers and I have authority over my soldiers. I understand authority. I only need to say go and they go and come and they come. And you're the same. It's all you need to do, just out of the word. Jesus, don't you wish you could have been there?

Sometimes I'd like to be a bug on the wall at places like this and just watch the scene. You wonder if Jesus put his hand on his mouth or put his hand on his shoulders or simply looked at him as he turned to those who were following him and said, I'll tell you the truth, I haven't seen faith like this in all Israel. And I'll tell you this, many Gentiles ultimately will come from all over the world, east and west. By the way, we're among them by the grace of God. How wonderful it is that God in his plan would reach out to us, non-Jews, undeserving, unworthy, at the same time there will be those for whom that feast was prepared. Who will not be there?

Verse 13, Jesus said to the Roman soldier, go back home because you believed it has happened. I want to ask you something. Where's the word? Well, don't waste your time. I've spent hours looking for it. It's not there.

You know why? There was no word. Omnipotence doesn't need to say a word.

Just think it. In his mind there was the healing. And at that moment, whether he was miles away or dozens of miles beyond where they were, or two streets down, the servant suddenly is healed that same hour.

How does he do it? The power of Jesus is the only thing I know to put on that line. The invisible power of Christ is at work.

Don't let distance hold you back from faith. Matthew recorded so many memorable moments like this one. Chuck Swindoll titled today's message, Snapshots of Power Far and Near. And there's much more to learn from this passage in Matthew chapter 8.

You're listening to Insight for Living. To learn more about this ministry, please visit us online at If Chuck's study in Matthew has ignited your curiosity and you're ready to learn more, then I'll encourage you to purchase Swindoll's Living Insights Commentary. The edition for Matthew comes in two robust volumes.

Both are hardbound. These two books include verse-by-verse insight from Chuck, including charts, maps, photos, key terms, and articles as well. It's a must-have for pastors, teachers, really anyone who wants to know more about the Bible. So to purchase Swindoll's Living Insights Commentary on Matthew, call us.

If you're listening in the United States, dial 1-800-772-8888, or go directly to slash store. When you give a donation above and beyond the cost of books and resources, your gift is channeled directly into supplying this daily program so people here at home and around the world will know the relevance of Matthew's gospel. And we have ample evidence through thousands of phone calls, emails, and comments that your gifts are truly making a difference.

In fact, here's an example. One of your fellow listeners in Montana left a message on our website that said, Chuck's ministry has had such an impact on my life, especially his downloadable studies. I'm a learner by academic studies, so his study guides have helped me so much. I have grown a lot spiritually from this ministry, and I cannot thank you enough. Well, you can see your gifts are truly making a difference. Your donation allows us to provide free online resources and, of course, this daily Bible study program as well. So to help us continue providing these daily visits with Chuck, you can call us if you're listening in the United States, dial 1-800-772-8888 or give online at Tomorrow Chuck Swindoll continues to describe several colorful snapshots that reveal the power of Jesus. Listen Thursday to Insight for Living. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-27 22:52:57 / 2023-11-27 23:01:48 / 9

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