Study 8 BEING CONCERNED FOR OTHERS
Key Verses: “And when the men of that place recognised Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to Him and begged Him to let the sick just touch the edge of His cloak, and all who touched Him were healed.” (Matthew 14: 35-36)
No Christian can live successfully who does not constantly and systematically seek to share the love of the Lord Jesus Christ with those who do not know Him, and no Christian will ever begin to do this until he or she feels a real concern, a burden for the salvation of the multitudes of men and women who are lost (Luke 19:10), condemned already (John 3:18), and are under the wrath of God (John 3:36). Do you feel any concern for the lost? Have you any passion for souls? Are you burdened as you think of your loved ones and friends and of the thousands of others who are not saved? How long do folk have to be in our company before, with the help of God, we tell them of our wonderful Saviour? Or are we unconcerned? Could those of our unconverted loved ones and friends say – Psalm 142:4? Notice the following in Matthew 14:35-36.
1. We have a description of the many people around us for whose salvation we need to be deeply concerned.
If we ask the question: What is the real need of the lost? – how does this portion of scripture answer it? It tells us three things about the people of that day which are true of people today.
- They were Diseased (verse 35). Many people today may be religious, respectable and living morally decent and upright lives, but every unsaved soul is gripped by the disease of sin (Luke 5:12), and unless they are cured their prospect is indeed solemn (Romans 6:23). Man’s first need is to be made perfectly whole through faith in the Lord Jesus. Multitudes of people live and die in a diseased condition, without God and without hope (Ephesians 2:12).
- They were at a Distance (verse 35) – “the men of that place…sent word to all the surrounding country…”, which indicates distance. They were at a distance from the Lord in a geographical sense, and what was true of them in that sense is true of multitudes today in a spiritual sense. The young people of our day and generation are to a very large extent growing up without any knowledge of God and of the gospel of His grace, and there is an appalling ignorance of the Bible and of the gospel. How concerned we need to be for the multitudes! – look up Matthew 9:36.
- They were Disabled (verse 35). They had to be brought into the presence of the Lord. It is true that every sinner is disabled by sin (Romans 5:6), but it is also true that beneath the outward cloak of respectability many are disabled by the sins of falsehood, drink, lust, drugs, immorality, etc. It is for these we need to feel and show a deep concern.
2. When is it that we really begin to get concerned about the souls of others?
Verse 35 gives us the answer to this question. It was “when the men of that place recognised Him” that “they sent word to all the surrounding country…” It is easy to see what happened. These men found the Lord for themselves, and they immediately became concerned that others might find Him too. That is what always happens; “knowing” and “going” go together. When we really know Him we shall go for Him, and the measure in which we know Him determines the measure in which we go – look up John 14:9 and Philippians 3:10, and compare Psalm 126:6 and Daniel 11:32. Here, then, is the qualification as well as the incentive to seek the lost; it is knowing the Lord personally and intimately – look up John 1:41 and 49.
3. When does this concern show itself?
If we really have a passion for souls and have a concern for their salvation, how shall we act? Verses 35 and 36 tell us that “when the men of that place recognised Him” they did three things:-
- They Sought (verse 35). They went out into all the surrounding country in search of those who needed the healing and saving touch of the Lord Jesus Christ. They scoured the district for needy souls. This is the Lord’s commission to us (Mark 16:15). It was C. T. Studd who gave the following advice to the missionaries in Central Africa: “Get the simple gospel out into the whole of your vast district, and see that every soul knows the way of salvation and has a fair chance of being saved.”
- They Brought (verse 35). The word “brought” is the most important word in this study. It indicates an emphasis which we must regain if we are successful to win others to Christ. It is important to go to them, but rescue work involves more than simply going to those who are lost. Souls must be brought to Christ. A fisherman is not content simply to fish; he is only satisfied when he catches fish – and you and I must not be content just to tell others of the Saviour’s love; we must seek His grace to bring them to Him.
- They Begged (verse 36). They pleaded with Him that those whom they had brought might be healed – in other words, they prayed. A true passion for souls will quickly show itself in persistent prayer for their salvation. In prayer God shows us those whom He would have us seek to win for Him, and in prayer we become channels through whom the Holy Spirit effects His work of winning them.
4. Where does this concern for others begin to operate?
Verse 35 again gives the answer; it tells us that “…the men of that place…sent word to all the surrounding country.” They became evangelists to their own people! And when we get a passion for souls, we shall begin to be burdened and concerned for the salvation of those with whom and amongst whom we live. We shall begin “in Jerusalem” (Acts 1:8).