“Never was anything like this seen in Israel.”

Scripture:  Matthew 9:32-38

32 As they were going away, behold, a dumb demoniac was brought to him.33 And when the demon had been cast out, the dumb man spoke; and the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” 34 But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.” 35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every  disease and every infirmity.  36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;  38 pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Meditation: Are you adequately protected from spiritual danger and evil? Jesus’ numerous exorcisms brought freedom to many who were troubled and oppressed by the works of evil spirits. Jesus himself encountered personal opposition and battle with Satan when he was put to the test in the wilderness just before his public ministry. He overcame the evil one through his obedience to the will of his Father. Whenever people approached Jesus with expectant faith, he gave them freedom from the power of sin and from the forces of evil and darkness.

How could Jesus’ miracles cause both scorn and wonder at the same time from those who professed faith in God?  Don’t we often encounter the same reaction today, even in ourselves!  The crowds looked with awe at the wonderful works which Jesus did, but the religious leaders attributed this same work to the power of the devil. They disbelieved because they refused to recognize Jesus as the Messiah. Their idea of religion was too narrow and closed to accept Jesus as the Anointed One sent by the Father. They were too set in their own ways to change and they were too proud to submit to Jesus.  They held too rigidly to the observances of their ritual laws while neglecting the more important duties of love of God and love of neighbor.  The people, as a result, were spiritually adrift and hungry for God.

Jesus met their need and gave them new faith and hope in God’s saving help.  Whenever the gospel is proclaimed God’s kingdom is made manifest and new life and freedom is given to those who respond with faith. The Lord grants freedom to all who turn to him with trust.  Do you pray for the work of the gospel that many today may find true joy and freedom in Jesus Christ?

“Lord, may your kingdom come to all who are oppressed and in darkness. Fill my heart with compassion for the lonely, the oppressed, and for those around me who do not know your love and freedom. Use me to bring the good news of your saving love and mercy.”

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(c) 2002 Don Schwager