39. Casting of demons (Legion) into herd of pigs- Matt. 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-39
-East and probably south of the Sea of Galilee Jesus came across a man (Matthew indicates two men) that was possessed by a legion (many) of demons. Their response to the Messiah is noteworthy as they wonder what business they have with one another. They knew the power of the Most High and did not want to have anything to do with Him. They bowed in fear and cowered under His authority, even though they had tormented this individual for a long time and were extremely violent with great strength. At the word of the Lord they had to flee being sent into a herd of swine that stampeded into the sea and drowned (weird eh?). The countrymen that saw and reported this were rightly frightened and asked Christ to depart. The man who was healed understandably wanted to follow Jesus and His disciples, but Jesus had a different plan for him. He was sent home to his own house and people to tell of the awesome and wonderful things the Savior had done for him. *Application* God has ultimate power in our lives and wants to rid us of anything and everything unclean that is within us. Allow His cleansing flow to infiltrate and wash you completely. Then you will be free to go in peace to anywhere that He desires to send you, even if it is in your own hometown!
Verse to Memorize- Mark 5:19
40. Calling of Matthew (Levi)- Matt. 9:9, Mark 2:13-14, Luke 5:27-28
-Right after Jesus had healed the paralytic there in Capernaum He sees Matthew (Levi) sitting at his tax booth and implores him to come and follow Him. Capernaum was a key military center for Roman troops during this period of history as well as a thriving business community along the northern shores of the Sea of Galilee. Merchants would pass through this area from as far away as Egypt to the south and Mesopotamia to the north. Collecting taxes was a major part of the Roman system and Matthew was a privileged, but despised, part of that collection process. Tax collectors would charge commission on the dues owed the Roman government and in most cases would accumulate exorbitant compensation for their work. This obviously irritated the local population of Jews since Matthew himself was Jewish but profiting off of foreign domination (Zacchaeus was also a tax collector in Jericho, Luke 19:1-9). It was in this context that the Messiah calls Levi to leave everything else behind and come follow Him. Amazingly Levi does this. He leaves behind a lucrative business of shame and becomes a disciple of Jesus Christ. He ends up giving us the gospel of Matthew as an endearing testimony of a life surrendered completely to the King of kings and His Kingdom. *Application* When we read of actual events like this one where a successful man in the ways of the world gives up literally everything to follow Christ, what kind of inspiration does that spark in your own soul? When the Lord beckons, we have one of two choices. 1) Leave everything behind and follow Him, or 2) Make excuses and refuse the call of God (putting off a call is saying no to it, God expects immediate compliance). When you hear the voice of the Lord calling you, be like Levi and go with Him on the amazing journey.
Verse to Memorize- Luke 5:28
41. The sick need a physician…- Matt. 9:10-13, Mark 2:15-17, Luke 5:29-32
-Matthew immediately hosted Jesus Christ and His disciples along with other Jews and Pharisees to celebrate his conversion in following after the Lord. The Pharisees made comments about why Jesus would associate Himself with such a sinner and the like, but Christ knew their hearts and addressed them. He proclaimed His mission, that it is the sick who need a physician, not the well. He desires compassion (love, inward change), not sacrifice (outward expression), and Jesus told the religious crowd to “go and learn” what that meant (Hosea 6:6, Matthew 9:13). Again we see the repentance word come up and this was something that the hard hearted Pharisees were unwilling to see, hear, or understand. They were self-righteous and loved to point out the wrong in others while neglecting their own imperfections. Jesus’ point should have been clear to them that they also needed a change of heart towards the Savior, but unfortunately they missed it. *Application* How often do we commune with those that may be considered outcasts and rejects of the standard church scene? Jesus was not ashamed or afraid to interact with even the most despised members of His society to share the good news of the gospel. How much more should we be noticing and seeking out individuals who are also called to be a part of the Kingdom of God?
Verse to Memorize- Matthew 9:13