Friday, January 10, 2014

LOST AND ALL ALONE (Matthew Chapter 8)

The leper (Matthew 8:1-4) likely didn’t know the crazy men (Matthew 8:28-34), but he’s been perpetually “bound-together” with them as bookends to a chapter which speaks to the miracle working power of the Lord Jesus.  In that sense and in another they shared much in common.

I’ve been lonely.  You’ve likely experienced loneliness too.  But it’s hard to imagine what must have been the lonely and hopeless experience of these three needy souls.  The kin of Adam all bear the tragic consequences of sin, these seemingly bore more than their fair share.

Disfigured by leprous sores and scars the diseased leper was deemed unclean.  Others were prohibited from any direct contact with him.  “Unclean, Unclean” he would warn lest any might come too close.  He had said it so often it had become his identity—how he thought of himself.  Forsaken by family and friends, he was a lonely man.  A discard of human society.  Parents warned their children to stay away from him.  How long had it been since he experienced the hug of his mother or embrace of his friend?  The affectionate or caring touch of another was but a distant memory.  He was a man without hope, utterly alone and rejected.  But then Jesus came.  By faith the leper made his way to Him.  Disregarding earthly protocol he bowed down to Jesus.  Confidently he proclaimed, “Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean” (Matthew 8:2).  And you know what Jesus did?  He did what no one else would dare do--what the leper had not experienced in months, maybe years.  “He stretched out His hand and touched him” (Matthew 8:3).  “Be cleansed” He said.  And the leper was cleansed.  One can only imagine the happy reunion that was the result when the leper was made whole and restored to his family and friends.

The demon possessed men lived in the tombs, far away from everyone else.  They were so violent that nobody else could pass by that way.  Their naked bodies bore the bruises and scars of self-afflicted wounds.  Though often bound with shackles and chains, with demonic power they would tear the chains from them and break the shackles into pieces.  The fearful neighbors could hear them crying out constantly “day and night,” their devil-inspired shrieks instilling fear in their hearts.  They were all alone.  Two men deemed too crazy and too dangerous to associate with.  Rejected and relegated to the place where dead men dwelt.  Lonely and helpless and hopeless men.  But then Jesus came.  The two men “met Him as they were coming out of the tombs” (Matthew 8:28).  The demons spoke.  “Begone” Jesus replied!  And with a word the men were delivered of their demons and made right of mind (Mark 5:15).  One can only imagine the happy reunion that was the result when the demon-possessed men were restored to their family and friends.

The Savior of all hung there on a cross.  The Only Begotten of God despised and rejected.  Conspired against and unfairly tried he was declared guilty and condemned to die.  His friends forsook Him.  His created mocked Him.  A cacophony of voices filled the air with insults and abuse.  Humanity declared Him unwelcome.  The loneliness of that experience is hard to fathom, but it was worse even than that.  The burden of the ugly sin of the lost and lonely sons of Adam was put upon Him.  He who had never sinned, was made to be sin.  And for a moment of time the eternal and perfect fellowship between the Father and the Son was severed.  The pain and agony and loneliness of that event transcends all human understanding.  He cried out, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”  But the grave could not hold Him, He rose from the dead triumphing over sin and death and the devil.

He was made to be sin that we might be made righteous in Him.  He was made to be lonely in sin that He might rescue the lonely from sin.  In Him there is hope for all of Adam’s kin.  He was not afraid to reach out and touch a leper.  He was powerful enough to subdue the demons.  He cares.  He is able.  He alone is able to rescue the lost and lonely.

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