Miracles and More

WELCOME to our exciting study of Matthew.

We’re now in Talk 7: Make Me Brave– because in our Bible story today, we meet two brave individuals who ask help from Jesus.

Imagine our Bible story today like a three-part sandwich. The first part is about a religious leader who asks Jesus to raise his dead daughter back to life. The middle part is when Jesus is on the way to that guy’s house, a bleeding woman touches Jesus and gets healed. The third part of the story is Jesus finally arriving at the leader’s house to raise his daughter back to life.

Today, instead of giving just 1 big message, we’ll preach 8 very short yet powerful messages from our one Bible story… One of these eight messages will be your special message—God’s very special word for you. He knows what you need to hear. And He will speak to your situation.

From Matthew 9, we start in verse 18: As Jesus was saying this, the leader of a synagogue came and knelt before him. “My daughter has just died,” he said, “but you can bring her back to life again if you just come and lay your hand on her.” 19 So Jesus and his disciples got up and went with him. (v.18-19)

This guy was the leader of a synagogue. The synagogue was the local church of the Jews. Some Scholars say that chances were high that this guy, like all the religious leaders of that time, saw Jesus as a dangerous heretic. Most likely, he hated Jesus.

So, what was he doing talking to Jesus?
He wasn’t devoted, He was just desperate. Obviously, his faith was imperfect. He just needed something. And I bet Jesus was his last recourse. But at the end of the story, the miracle still happened. Because a miracle does not depend on how great your faith is– it depends on how great your God is.

But here’s my main one. This guy was an enemy, but Jesus still loved him. A few chapters ago in the Sermon on the Mount, He said, “But I say, love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you!” (Matthew 5:44 NLT) And a few verses before this, He already loved his enemies when he served the Roman Centurion. And now, He was doing it again.

Here’s a huge question: Do you have an enemy today who is asking for your help? Ask Jesus what He wants you to do. (NOTE: I’m not talking about abusive people. We must set boundaries.)

This is how crazy His Kingdom works.

This is what it means to follow Jesus.

Here’s the next word…

At this point in the story, an interruption happens: “Just then…” (v.19)

I can’t resist preaching this little message. Because life is filled with “Just Then” interruptions.

A friend invites you to serve.

Or someone calls you up with a problem.

Or a strange knocks on your door.

Let me clarify.

Not every interruption comes from God.

But from my personal experience, some do. So, discern.

Be sensitive to the Spirit. Yes, you’ll make a lot of mistakes in saying yes to an interruption. But if your heart gets bigger because of saying yes to an interruption, then it’s not a mistake anymore—it becomes a miracle.

In our Bible story, Jesus welcomed the interruption. A sick woman needed His healing. And lo and behold, a miracle happened.

Friend, don’t be too attached to your plans. When your plans fail, open yourself to God’s surprises.

I don’t like interruptions in my life. But I’ve noticed that sometimes, my best blessings came from interruptions. Let me give you an example. Every day, I receive thousands of messages on social media. That’s an interruption. Why will I spend one hour a day, reading messages from strangers and praying for people? But through the years, I realized my preaching is based on these letters. They’re no longer strangers, they’re part of my big family.

Just then a woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding came up behind him.

12 years? OMG. This was horrible. Imagine her walking in a mall and a woman approaches her and says, “Miss, you have a stain. It must be your period. Is it your first day?” She shakes her head and says, “No, it’s my 12th year.”

I believe this bleeding woman represented Israel. Why? Most of the time, numbers are significant in the Bible. Matthew said she has been bleeding for 12 years, and 12 represented the 12 tribes of Israel. And her “bleeding” was a symbol of the non-stop flow of blood from the daily animal sacrifices offered in the Temple.

Here’s the message: You don’t need to sacrifice animals to gain God’s forgiveness. Jesus’ sacrifice is enough. You don’t need to do anything to be loved— You’re already accepted by God. You’re worthy. You’re approved. You’re forgiven. You’re embraced. Let’s move on…

The woman was desperate, not only because she was sick, but also because her sickness separated her from her religion and her people. According to Jewish Law, a woman who bled was ceremonially unclean: “If a woman has a flow of blood for many days that is unrelated to her menstrual period, or if the blood continues beyond the normal period, she is ceremonially unclean.” (Leviticus 15:25 NLT)

Message 4: We All Need Jesus

That meant that she couldn’t enter church.

She couldn’t touch anyone. For 12 years, she couldn’t hug her mother. Or shake the hand of a friend. Or high-five a neighbor. Or stroke the hair of a child. (NOTE: COVID patients know how painful this is.)

That’s why these two personalities can never be more opposite.

The first guy was part of the Who’s Who of the religious elite. The guy ran the local church. But this woman couldn’t even enter that church. Because of her bleeding, she was permanently unclean.

Putting them in one story, Matthew was saying, “It doesn’t matter who you are. You may be rich or poor, educated or uneducated, religious or non-religious—You need Jesus.

In the past 40 years of ministry, I’ve talked to Beggars and Billionaires, and believe me, beneath our clothes and cars, we’re all the same. We’re all scared human beings, desperate for meaning and worth and purpose and life. We all need Jesus.

Read what happened next: She touched the fringe of his robe, 21 for she thought, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” 22 Jesus turned around, and when he saw her, he said, “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment. (v.20-22)

Friend, are you desperate right now?

In a very real sense, desperation can be a great place to be in. Why? Desperation can be the birthplace of miracles. Let your desperation push you towards Jesus.

One day, I attended a retreat where the speaker asked us to draw our entire life in a graph. It was brilliant. Because in one page, I saw my entire life laid out before me. In that graph, I listed down all my low points and all my high points and plotted them in the chart. My low points were all my heartbreaks, my frustrations, my failures. Like how I was molested as a child. How I was bullied in school. How I struggled with my porn addiction. How I failed in my businesses. How my wife suffered three miscarriages. How I lost my Dad, and then lost my Mom, and then lost my sister…

That’s when I noticed something. I realized that the lowest points of my life were the times when I felt closest to God. From a big picture perspective, my lowest points catapulted me to my biggest spiritual growth.

Remember, this woman should never touch anyone– even Jesus– because according to Jewish Law, she would spread her uncleanness to Jesus. But the exact opposite thing happened. The cleanness of Jesus spread to her.

The Bible says this: When Jesus touched the leper, the opposite happened. His cleanliness overpowered the uncleanliness of the leper. That’s the lesson we can derive from the story: That there’s no one today who is too dirty and too filthy and too messy for Jesus to cleanse and love.

We talked about this a few weeks ago. Remember, my son Ethan helped me preach this. If I didn’t stop him, he might have preached the entire message (See The Feast Family, September 13, 2020).

Because He is more powerful than your sinfulness.

Declare this with me: “God is stronger than my sin!”

God is stronger than your sin. God is stronger than your shame.

After the interruption, the original story continues: When Jesus arrived at the official’s home, he saw the noisy crowd and heard the funeral music. (v.23)

Perhaps you’re wondering, “Why is there a noisy crowd?”

In ancient Israel, they already had professional wailers. Even in some

Chinese funerals today, you still have them.

Watch what Jesus did to this noisy crowd: “Get out!” he told them. “The girl isn’t dead; she’s only asleep.” But the crowd laughed at him. 25 After the crowd was put outside, however, Jesus went in and took the girl by the hand, and she stood up! 26 The report of this miracle swept
through the entire countryside. (v.24-26)

Could Jesus have healed the girl right away, even with all the loud crying beside him? I’m sure He could have done that. But He didn’t. He wanted to first create an atmosphere of faith. I suggest that in any situation you are in, check the atmosphere in the room. Because believe the atmosphere impacts your attitude and your actions. So, whenever you can, create an atmosphere of faith. Listen to the right teachers. Watch the right media.

For the last message, I want to go back to that peculiar detail of our middle story—that the woman didn’t touch Jesus, she just touched His robe. Matthew made this point very clear in verses 20-21:

Matthew was writing 40+ years after Jesus lived on Planet Earth.

So, people couldn’t see, hear, or touch Jesus. But they could touch His robe. Because you, His follower, have become that Robe. When people touch you, they should be able to touch Jesus. When people speak to you, they should be able to hear Jesus.

Let me end with a story. Not mine, but a story from Bro. Bo:

One day, after preaching, after he stepped off the stage, a little girl approached him. She was adorable. Probably three or four years old.

Bro. Bo bent down to greet her,

“Hi, little girl!”

He didn’t expect what she said next.

She asked Bo, “Are you Jesus?”

Bro. Bo narrates:“I froze. For a moment, I didn’t know what to say. I shook my head and said, “I’m sorry, I’m not Jesus.”

She gave me a bewildered look, but it didn’t last long.

She smiled again and asked, “Are you…friend of Jesus?”

I beamed and hugged her. “Yes, I’m a friend of Jesus.”

Her question is powerful.

Because today, many are desperate for healing, and they want to touch Jesus through us…

The robe served as the woman’s contact point to Jesus.

What healed her was not the touching of Jesus’ robe, but her faith. The robe merely served as her contact point for her faith.

So, if we are the robe in the sense that we represent

Jesus in this world, then it means we are the contact point of Jesus. So, let’s be the feet, the arms, the voice, and the heart of Jesus.

But you know what, before we can do this, we first need to check our faith…Jesus wanted to tell the woman, and I believe He is telling this to you and me now: “That there is no need to hide from Me. Don’t let your shame and insecurity keep you away from me.”

Even if you are unclean, even if you are a sinner, even if you doubt sometimes, even if your faith is not perfect. Let’s approach Him and believe He is the Messiah…

What He did when He brought the girl to life was a prequel to what He would do on the Cross.

He would hand Death its last and final defeat. It was a foretelling, an introduction to His Resurrection. This is Jesus, my friends. He is almighty. He is merciful. He is loving. So, let’s come to Him today. Open your life to Him.


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