Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jan 13 2013 - Matthew 9:18-38 – The good news of the kingdom

Jesus had power to heal the sick; the hand stretched out to him in faith felt his transforming power. Jesus raised the dead with the touch of his hand; he is the author of life. Jesus gave sight to the blind; he enabled those who had lived in darkness to come into the light. Jesus gave a voice to those who could not speak; those who had been robbed of the ability to praise were freed from Satan’s bondage. Wherever he went, lives were transformed by his presence and power. The incidents in this passage of Scripture are well captured in Charles Wesley’s wonderful hymn:

O for a thousand tongues to sing
my great Redeemer's praise,
The glories of my God and King,
the triumphs of His grace.

Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
that bids our sorrows cease,
'Tis music in the sinner's ear,
'tis life and health and peace.

He breaks the power of cancelled sin,
He sets the prisoner free.
His blood can make the foulest clean;
His blood avails for me.

He speaks, and listening to His voice,
new life the dead receive.
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice;
the humble poor believe.

Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb,
your loosened tongues employ.
Ye blind, behold your Saviour come;
and leap, ye lame, for joy.

My gracious Master and my God,
assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the Earth abroad,
the honours of Thy name.

Matthew 9 ends with an account of Jesus' travels and ministry throughout Galilee; "Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness" (9:35). We read that, "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" (9:36). Jesus had come as David's greater son. He had come to be a shepherd to his people Israel – the Good Shepherd who cares for the sheep. He had come not only to preach concerning the kingdom; he had come to establish his kingdom. But it was not the kingdom that people were expecting – a kingdom marked by military might and naked power. He had come to establish a kingdom of compassion; a kingdom which is good news for the poor; a kingdom open to all.

Jesus’ compassion for the crowds moves him to tell his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field" (9:37-38). Jesus wants recruits who will join him in the work of the kingdom.

The needs are no less severe today. We live in a world where many still feel harassed and helpless; where they need not only to hear the good news of the kingdom but to be met with the compassion of Christ. We also need to pray for our world and for the coming of the kingdom; "May your kingdom come. May your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven."

But prayer is not enough. As we shall see in tomorrow's reading, Jesus sends his disciples out to be the answer to their own prayer. We who know and follow the Good Shepherd are to go and bring his transforming compassion to a needy world. We are to be agents of the kingdom.

Lord, open my eyes to see today where I may bring the transforming touch of your kingdom to those who are lost. Loosen my tongue today to speak of the Shepherd who restores the soul of those who come to him. By your Spirit, fill me with your power and enable me to be part of the good news of the kingdom. Help me to spread your fame wherever I go.

Peter Misselbrook