He Shall Save His People
LORD! SAVE US!
JESUS SHALL SAVE His people from their sins (Matt.1:21). But even
after speaking to them of the perfection enjoyed in this salvation and its high standards
of thinking and acting (Matt.5-7) there seemed to be no interest in this great operation,
at least as the Saviours achievement. A leper came to Jesus for cleansing from
leprosy (Matt.8:2). A Roman centurion came, requesting healing for his boy who was
dreadfully tormented in paralysis (8:5-8). They brought to Him many demoniacs, and
He cast out the spirits with a word, and all those who have an illness He cures
(8:16). But no one came to ask for salvation from sins.
The people may have
forgotten this mission of the Lords, if indeed they had ever given it much thought.
But Jesus was fully aware of the work He was involved in and the hardships it involved
along the way (cf Matt.8:20), as well as the ultimate humiliation needed in order
for this salvation to be gained. The cleansing of the leper, the healing of the paralytic
and curing of the diseased were pictures of that fuller cleansing from sins that God would
accomplish through His Son.
WE ARE PERISHING
one approached Jesus, saying, Lord! Save us from our sins! even though all
were perishing with that most universal and devastating of diseases. But His disciples who
had followed Him aboard a ship approached Him when a storm from an earthquake threatened
their lives. They roused Him, for He was drowsing, and cried out, Lord! Save us! We
are perishing! (Matt.8:23-25).
What the disciples
said here is what all Israel will say when their eyes are opened to the dangers they are
in and to their helplessness in themselves and need of the Saviour. But the disciples
lacked one essential element that they and all Israel will possess when they are saved
from their sins. That is the blessing of faith in the Saviour and reliance on His
goodness, power and love. Jesus criticized the disciples for being timid and
scant of faith (v.26). This will not be so under the new covenant when they
all shall know the Lord from the smallest of them to the greatest (Jer.31:34). Then the
Rescuer will come out of Zion, and He will establish His covenant and eliminate their
sins, and all Israel shall be saved (Rom.11:26-28).
The disciples were
right in recognizing this helplessness and in going to Jesus for salvation, but they were
wrong in their lack of confidence in the Saviour. To be sure this was a very human sin,
and something that we all are guilty of time and time again. But that does not make it
right and only indicates that the disciples were not yet saved from their sins. Their sin
of unbelief was not as great as the sin of unbelief shown by the scribes and Pharisees,
but we must not suppose that the Saviour is concerned only in saving from small sins. The
fact that Jesus was the Saviour of these disciples from the churning sea and will save
them from all their sins, including that of unbelief, is evidence for, not proof against,
the eventual salvation of the unbelieving leaders of Israel from their sins including the
sins of unbelief and enmity.
Matthew 9:1-8 we read about the faith of some in the Lords ability to heal. These
brought to Him a paralytic, prostrate on a couch, and perceiving their
faith, He healed this paralytic with the words, Courage, child! Pardoned are
your sins! This took the people by surprise, and some of the scribes, who correctly
associated pardon of sins with God, immediately inferred that Jesus was speaking
blasphemy. Powers for healing were sometimes given to certain people, but the power to
pardon sins was something most unusual except in prophecy concerning the Messiah.
[Yahweh] is pardoning all your depravity, Who is healing all your ailments
(Psa.103:3; cf Isa.43:25; Jer.33:8).
The pardon of sins
is not the same as salvation from sins, but it has this great blessing in view. By saying
Pardoned are your sins, Jesus was employing His authority as Saviour. He would
be saving His people from their sins, and in view of that certain achievement He could
speak the present pardon of the paralytic. For the paralytic, this pardon was the basis
for his present physical healing. The healing was given to one who exhibited even more
faith than the disciples had shown on the Sea, but the faith of the paralytic was not the
cause of his healing, but rather only a means or channel by which the Saviour brought His
work of saving from sin (itself in the restrictive form of pardon) into his life.
BROODING WICKEDNESS IN HEART
of the scribes who heard Jesus pardon the sins of the paralytic and witnessed this work of
healing were brooding wickedness in their hearts rather than being invigorated
by faith (Matt.9:3,4). They had even less faith than the disciples who were scant of
faith (8:26). But those (excluding Judas) who were so often scant of faith will sit
on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (cf Matt.19:28), and these scribes
will likely be included among those sons of the kingdom who will be cast out into outer
darkness with lamentation and gnashing of teeth (Matt.8:12).
called many who were tribute collectors and sinners (Matt.9:10-13) rather than
the Pharisees who were more diligent in heeding the law. Obviously this was not because
the tribute collectors had been meeting the standards laid down in Matthew 5-7. Their
careers were full of disobedience to laws that were not at all the least of the precepts (cf
5:19). But, like the lepers and the crippled and the diseased, many of the tribute
collectors and similar sinners, were aware of their need of a Saviour.
Jesus explained to
His disciples, No need have the strong of a physician, but those having an
illness . . . . For I did not come to call the just, but
sinners (Matt.9:12,13). Yet the Pharisees also were sinners. They did not admit it,
at least outwardly, but more to the point, they had not been given that righteous honesty
to recognize their need; they were not granted even that scantness of faith that was given
to the disciples.
We observe in this
that the lepers and diseased, and the tribute collectors and noted sinners, were more
fortunate than the highly disciplined Pharisees and the healthy and prosperous
leaders of Israel of that day. There was more opportunity in the lives of Matthew and
Peter for the display of Gods power for salvation, and His mercy to sinners, than in
the lives of the scribes and Pharisees. We rejoice in this operation of divine wisdom and
glory. But all this glory is obscured and confused by the teaching that the outer darkness
reserved for these Pharisees is an everlasting punishment in hell, both for them and for
all who are not called into faith.
HE WHO ENDURES TO THE CONSUMMATION
did indeed make it clear that there would come a day of judging. For Sodom and Gomorrah it
would be more tolerable in that day than for the cities of Israel where the message of
warning and hope carried by the disciples would be rejected (Matt.10:15). Those who would
persecute and kill the disciples will face the future prospect of the destruction of their
soul and their body in Gehenna (Matt.10:28). And those who would disown Jesus in front of
men will be disowned in front of His Father (10:33).
In fact, Jesus
indicated that even those who start out following His commission of Matthew 10:5-10 but do
not endure under persecutions to the consummation might not be saved (10:22).
Not only must they have faith, but they also must have endurance in faithfulness.
Still, in the end
faith and endurance must be seen as gifts of God, connected to His providential placings
and shapings of individuals. A woman was given a hemorrhage for twelve years and so was
led to seek healing outside of herself and her own efforts (Matt.9:20-22). A tribute
collector named Matthew experienced the disdain of his own people and was given the
honesty of knowing some of his sins, such as, perhaps, greed and cowardice. We do not know
all the factors that were involved, but it is clear that he was well prepared for a deeper
revelation of salvation, one that went beyond physical healing or deliverance from
earthquakes on the sea.
On the other hand,
many in Israel were calloused and given a spirit of stupor (cf Rom.11:7,8). The
fact that God determined the course of Peters life, with all his scantness of faith,
and that of the scribes who brooded wickedness in their heart, does not change the fact
that each will be judged in accord with his acts. And James the brother of John will be
given a throne in the kingdom, while Herod who instigated the assassination of James (Acts
12:1,2) will be condemned to the destruction of his soul and body, as we may well infer
from our Lords words in Matthew 10:28.
Exactly how the
Judge will judge all these matters, in consideration of all the factors of each ones
life, is beyond our comprehension. Like David we thankfully leave this to God, Who alone
knows all these things. But we must not confuse judgment with the work of the Saviour in
saving from sin, and certainly not think of condemnation in the eons ahead as a final
state that keeps Jesus from being the Saviour of His people from their sins, and that
keeps God from being manifested as the Saviour of all mankind.
EVERY TONGUE SHALL ACCLAIM
is a great source of frustration that our commonly used translations of the Bible should
have rendered certain scriptural terms in such a way that our Lords teaching
concerning judgment confuses and even contradicts His teaching concerning salvation from
sins. The fact is that none of the warnings and prophecies of Jesus concerning judgment
make it impossible for Him to save all His people and all sinners of all time from their
sins. Those who are condemned will be brought to a recognition of need for salvation that
surely will surpass the recognition of need possessed by the disciples in the fierce
tossing of the Sea, and the paralytic in his seeking out of Jesus, and Matthew the tribute
collector in the awareness of his disobedience and disloyalty, and Peter after denying the
It is beyond such
judgment and condemnation that the most stubborn and calloused of sinners out of Israel
and all mankind will be blessed with both a realization of their need of a Saviour and
appreciation of Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Then, they also will look to Jesus and cry
out in faith Lord! Save us from our sins! And He will do so on the basis of
His death for sinners. Then, in accord with Gods own timings, they will join Matthew
and the ex-Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus, in acclaiming the Lordship of Jesus the Saviour, Who
is the Christ, and this for the glory of God, the Father (Phil.2:10,11).
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