Pastoral Relief and Retreat

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Wethersfield, CT, United States
I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

January 21, 2009 Authority

READ: Matthew 7:28-8:4
28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching,
29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

1 When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him.
2 And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.
3 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, I will; be clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
4 And Jesus said to him, See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.

I love to listen to sermons by Dr. Timothy Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York. Dr. Keller is one of the best Bible teachers around today. His insights into the Scriptures are, in my opinion, impeccable. If you are interested in hearing some really awesome preaching, go to http://sermons.redeemer.com/store/ Most of what is there is for sale, but there are some Keller sermons that are free for the listening.

One of the greatest fears I think any expositor of the Word faces is the thought that he/she may not be listening to God and is really just offering opinion or wisdom from the world or their own gut when they preach. I knew one pastor who was terribly afraid that he might somehow dishonor Christ. He often said that he put more time in praying that God would protect him from dishonoring the Word in his own life and in his preaching than on any other subject.

To me, the fascinating thing about this passage isn't that the crowds were astonished at his teaching. Any ol' preacher like Tim Keller can do that. It isn't even that Jesus healed a leper. Modern medicine offers treatments for many diseases, and frankly, God has used many people over the years as agents of direct and miraculous healing. No, the amazing thing to me here is the final statement Jesus makes to the leper, "And Jesus said to him, See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them."

Say nothing to anyone? A huge crowd had just followed Jesus down from the mountain. The leper was kneeling there before Jesus in the middle of a great throng! Think of it. Why would Jesus be saying this to the man with a huge crowd around. If I had just been healed of a deadly disease I'd be excitedly going from neighbor to neighbor telling one after another what the preacher had done for me.

There are two things to notice. The first is that Jesus doesn't need to be the focus of attention here. He heals the man, but after that there's no preaching. There's no lesson Jesus wants to use this occasion to highlight. He simply had compassion and the authority to accomplish the healing. Secondly, Jesus is very concerned to do what Scripture requires. His reference to Moses is from Leviticus 14:2-32. He tells the man to follow Scripture. I think that if it had been me I'd have probably taken the opportunity to consolidate my congregation. I'd have called for follow-up meetings and most likely we'd have had a healing crusade for weeks following. I might have even started a non-profit and named it after myself. But I guess that's not how Jesus does things.

Jon

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