"Jesus went through Galilee...preaching...curing every...sickness...afflicted with various diseases, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics - He healed them all...and great crowds followed..." Matthew 4:24-25
This passage is a prelude to Pastor Ed's sermon for Sunday. These things took place before the famous "Sermon on the Mount" was preached (which is the Gospel for this Sunday, Matthew 5:1-12.)
I'm sure there were good, salt-of-the-earth, middle-of-the-road kind of people who were in the great crowds who followed them, but my guess the greatest throng of people following along were those who had nothing because they had been sick, afflicted, possessed, crippled in heart, muscle, and mind. This would mean they had nothing; nothing-until Jesus came along.
Jesus gave them healing, but more importantly, He gave them hope.
And, that carries over into the 5th chapter and the famous Beatitudes that Jesus preached; think about those who receive blessing: not those one might think-to whom did God's blessings go?
They went to those who were poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, the hungry, the thirsty, the peacemakers, the persecuted for what's right, the people who had prejudice thrust upon them because of their faith.
So far then, in this little blog, God has shared hope with the pain-filled folks and those who have nothing but struggle from every sense of the physical world; God has compassion especially for the poor and downtrodden and the starving and the ones who risk every day the wrath of a society who seems to care less and less. God shares His love with those who bear the brunt of society's prejudices against them. Those, my friends, are God's people, according to Matthew 4 and 5, like it or not.
If you are down-and-out for any reason; if you feel deserted and left out of the world's highfalutin affairs; or, maybe you are ill or bed-ridden or down-on-your-luck or dealing with depression and anxiety. According to Matthew, then, you are a prime candidate for God's faith community; according to the Gospel, you're in pretty good company, I'd say.
You can no
longer hide behind your maladies and sorrow; you can no longer run from the divine need of God because somebody else "has your number." In these chapters of Matthew, the Lord accepts no excuses because He accepts you as you are: Tattered and torn, overworked and underpaid, high maintenance or undeserving, confident or weak, helpful or un: you are God's child, and you can't change it.
"I am the Lord your God..." (Exodus 20:2) He said these words to Moses and the children of Israel. This led into the Ten Commandments which is one of the foundations of our faith and daily living. This opening remark is not a command. Note this please. This is God's statement of faith and commitment for each one of our sakes. God announced "I am the Lord your God" and it's not a multiple choice kind of answer. "I am what I am whether you acknowledge it or not. So there." God ultimately says.
There are no boundaries to His love and concern for us. Do not hide behind politics or government or even the church herself as we look for blame for the sins, lies, deceit, and other misgivings of the world; you have been chosen by God, you are His child of whom He is well pleased (Matthew 3:17). You really don't have any excuses.
What's next? Get up and walk (John 5:8); Go therefore into the world (Matthew 28:19). God will show you what to do. (Acts 1:8) For you are never alone. (Matthew 28:20b) And, when you go, go in peace, for....
God loves you and so do we!