Matthew wrote in a very Jewish way about the interest Jesus had in Gentiles. He was a servant of the Gentiles when he met Jesus, working for a foreign government, collecting taxes for them from his fellow Jews.
Two times he made a point of displaying the fact that the Spirit of God was leading Gentiles to revelation are related to the sorcerers who came looking for Jesus in the beginning of his record, and in what we call chapter 8, with the centurion who caused Jesus to marvel at the level of his understanding of what the Spirit had revealed to him about the connection of faith to authority.
The magi were sorcerers (Matthew 2). At least they were if Simon in Luke’s story of Philip leading a city in Samaria to Jesus was a sorcerer (Acts 8) and Elymas, whom Paul blinded in the city of Phaphos was one (Acts 13).
The two times the word “magos” is used in the New Testament, it is in one case describing people who saw a star and came looking for a King Who was worthy to be worshiped, and in the other, Elymas in Phaphos. The work of Simon in Samaria was referred to by a form of the word that described the work he was deceiving the people with as sorcery. King James’ translators didn’t mind translating it into English as “sorcerer” when Luke was describing Elymas, but cleaned it up to “wise men” when Matthew used it to refer to the foreigners who studied astrology. “Astro” – star; “logy” – words. They were listening to the stars and heard the voice of the One Who breathed them into being.
Be encouraged by Matthew to get the fact that God wants to talk to you and make you able to understand what He is doing around you and in you and through you. If the guys who weren’t really important enough to get invited to the party by the religious leadership were important enough to God to give them valuables that the leadership didn’t even get, I interpret that to mean that you don’t have to be important in earthly business to still be very important in Kingdom business.
Our God has made many promises that have been recorded as part of the Scriptures. Some are for us, some aren’t. Claiming the curses He has promised Moab as pertaining to us is a bad idea. Claiming some of the blessings that He has promised certain people in certain situations may not be appropriate. We can ask for the good stuff, even if He wasn’t talking to us – “Lord, You did that for them, would You do it for me?”, but claiming it as a promise to us is not right if He wasn’t talking to us.
This one, in Isaiah 54, is to us. His servants have this promise by His declaration. Have it! Be covered by His protection and blessing.
In the story Matthew shared of Jesus blessing a Gentile woman in the area north of Israel one day, he quoted Jesus as saying to her that her faith was great. He didn’t comment on the object of her faith. I suggest that it was aimed at His character and His love, and not at His power. Your faith can aim there too, and also be full of great faith when you are seeking His help.
When Jesus left there, He withdrew to the area of Tyre and Sidon. Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came and kept crying out, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is cruelly tormented by a demon.”
Yet He did not say a word to her. So His disciples approached Him and urged Him, “Send her away because she cries out after us.”
He replied, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But she came, knelt before Him, and said, “Lord, help me!”
He answered, “It isn’t right to take the children’s bread and throw it to their dogs.”
“Yes, Lord,” she said, “yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table!”
In the 10th chapter of Mark’s Good News, he recorded Jesus’ making a trip through Jericho. On His way out of town, Jesus heard a blind man calling out to Him for mercy. He stopped and invited the man to come to Him.
When Jesus was walking on the water to the disciples’ boat in Matthew 14, Peter asked for permission to join Him. Jesus replied, “Come!” In this case, and with Bartimaeus, Jesus invited them to come to Him. When they did, their faiths became effective.
Jesus is to us a High Priest, in the order of Melchizedek, which means that He is a Priest Who sits on a throne as a King. He is constantly inviting us to come to Him, and to come boldly, as the writer of Hebrews said in the last few verses of chapter 4. We should expect the Priest Who loves us so much that He became the only sufficient Sacrifice for us to receive us happily – asking us what it is that we want Him to do for us, just as He did to Bartimaeus.
Go to Him with the faith you can find, and declare your needs and desires to Him. Be encouraged, that as He said to Peter after he had walked a few steps on the water, it doesn’t take much faith to step into the impossible when we are asking Jesus to make it possible. Place your courage in His love for you.
Appeals for support of ministries are abundant around us. The range of styles stretches from attempting to make us feel guilty that we are heartless with regard to the suffering of some beneficiaries of the work of a ministry to making us fearful that we will never be blessed again by God if we don’t give Him immediate proof that we trust Him by giving some ministry our last $1000, to genuine opportunities to invest in something that manifests His love and His Kingdom.
As we decide what to do, I suggest that we not look at needs. Jesus knew that there would always be poor people. He focused on Jews and frequently ignored Gentiles. After a night of prayer, He one morning seems to have left Peter’s home, where ministry had been effective and popular for a few days without even announcing that the meetings were over (Luke 4).
I suggest that we ask the Spirit where He wants us to invest what, and to consider the investment to be in the servants who are doing the work, not in the work. If someone asks you to invest in their work, look at the person. Make the investment in the person or the group who are doing the work.
This is a vision of the Body becoming real-ized. As we look at each other, and discern His Body (1 Corinthians 11), we connect in ways that our love for each other manifests Him and His work. Focusing on Him will not make us forget to serve Him. Focusing on serving Him can make us forget to focus on Him.
Frank Bartleman was the resident intercessor in the Azusa Street Revival, which was a beginning of the Pentecostal movement in 1906. On May 1, 1904, he was present at the Lake Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church in Pasadena California when a revival began to break forth there. People had been praying that God would visit Pasadena.
That night, Bartleman wrote, “God has always sought a humble people. He can use no other… There is always much need for heart preparation, in humility and separation, before God can consistently come. The depth of any revival will be determined exactly by the spirit of repentance that is obtained. In fact, this is the key to every true revival born of God.” 1
The other leader in the Azusa Street Revival was a young black man named William Seymour. Born the son of two slaves, he had braved much insult and humiliation to learn to read and to preach the Scriptures, including having to sit in the hall and listen through a partly open door in Charles Parham’s Bible school in Topeka. Having been blinded in one eye by smallpox, it is prophetic that his name was “Seymour.”
These two humble agents became lightning rods through which power came to the Church from the throne of God. Humble yourself before God and He will exalt you into His service.
Just because I have been born of God, and have become capable of seeing the Kingdom, I cannot expect that I will see it if I have no desire to. This is what Yahweh said through Jeremiah:
Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind, who makes human flesh his strength and turns his heart from the Lord. He will be like a juniper in the Arabah; he cannot see when good comes but dwells in the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land where no one lives.
By trusting Yahweh, I am placing myself in a position to know when He blesses me. By trusting humans instead of Yahweh, I am casting my life into a wilderness, where a blessing can happen right behind me that I need desperately, but I won’t even notice that I missed it.
When Jesus was being arrested, Matthew quoted Him (26: 55,56) as saying that He had been teaching in the temple every day without being arrested. He asked why they were coming with clubs and spears in the night to conquer Him as if He was a criminal. Then He answered His question Himself: it had to be done the way it was written – Scripture must be fulfilled.
He knew what the Scriptures said about Him. That made it easier to discern timings and events and directions from the Holy Spirit, and to know the joy of the future that would empower Him to be nailed to the cross and baptized in our sin (Hebrews 12:2).
We need to know what the Scriptures and the Spirit say about us. We need to have a rope thrown into our futures that can anchor us to our purposes. We need to know something about our purposes so that we can be at peace when they are being accomplished even on the days that they seem instead to be unraveling.
If you don’t know what your current reasons are for being in the earth, the Holy Spirit knows all the answers to all the questions. He even knows what questions you should be asking. Ask Him what to ask. Believe what He tells you.