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Sunday Sermon – 7/28/02  The Phantom – Matthew 14:26

The Phantom

“‘It’s a ghost’, they said, and cried out in fear
(Matthew 14:26)

We went to New York on a budget but somehow we saw "everything", including the Broadway show, "The Phantom of the Opera." I was always curious about the seats in those little boxes at the sides of theaters but never sat in them. I had assumed, because of their exclusivity, they would be more expensive. Not so, for they were half the price of orchestra seating. We did the math, decided to afford it, and went to see "The Phantom".

It was wonderful - full of special effects and in general, a lot of fun. But the box (loge) seating was indeed different. For one thing, there was a corner of the stage we could not see, which was initially disconcerting. But there were unexpected benefits.

We could look behind the scenes. We were able to peer directly down into the orchestra pit and watch the musicians and conductor. Also, we could look into the wings and see the actors who were waiting to come on stage. And, at one point, when the audience was to see a flash of light and the actor would disappear right before their eyes, we saw him lift up his arms and jump through a trapdoor on the stage.

It was, of course, a reminder of the Book of Revelation and other "apocalyptic" sections of the Bible, and it offered us a new "look" at what such writings may be all about. In such places, we are taken "behind the scenes" of this world and are shown the "heavenlies", from God's perspective instead of our own. An example is Revelation 10:1, "And I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire".

In New York, we saw trains, taxis, homes, buildings, people, pets, and much more. What does GOD "see" when He looks at you and the circumstances of your life? More than you do, that's for sure. For one thing, He sees your "heart" and knows your underlying motives in relation to every situation. He also clearly sees the unseen beings and events that continually surround us, though WE are usually oblivious even to their existence.

In places like Revelation 10:1, where we saw the "strong angel, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire", we should reasonably wonder: Are such creatures here with us right now, and we don’t see them? The answer is, emphatically YES. And our Lord is with us, as well.

The key Person “behind the scenes” of our life is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is always “walking on the waters” of your troubles and mine, just like He did that night when the disciples were frightened because He walked on water. They were in a small boat in a storm which meant difficult circumstances, and He came to them in their need.

But they were frightened at the sight of Him, for they didn’t expect ANYONE to be walking toward them during a storm in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. They yelled, “It’s a ghost” and they “cried out in fear” (Matthew 14:26). Now, you may be afraid of what you cannot see or control, just like the disciples of Jesus, but take a moment to look at the next verse: Jesus told them, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (Matthew 14:27).

In all your difficulties and sorrows, Jesus Christ is reaching out to you. You may be deeply afraid right now, but He loves you and longs to deliver you from the storms of life. He is telling you right now: “Take courage! It is I.” And He reminds you, “Don’t be afraid.” His love for you is real and He will bring you through.

“The Phantom” we saw in New York was the fictional portrayal of someone who hid behind the scenes and manipulated others for his own ends. He wanted to TAKE from others, whereas our Lord is the precise opposite of such a being. Jesus cried out, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35), for He is able to SATISFY your soul!

The other day, we were in San Diego, and the especially good part of it was that we got to see Christo and Blake. As we left in the evening, we were hungry and stopped at a local fast food place because it had a "drive-through" lane, enabling us to quickly get back onto the freeway. We arrived at the posted menu and were attempting to select something, when the voice on the intercom asked, "What’ll you have?"

We didn't see a salad on the menu, so we asked, "Do you have veggie burgers?" The prompt answer was "Yes, we do," and we ordered two of them, along with a drink and an order of onion rings. As we received the bag of items, we checked and, sure enough, all of it seemed to be there. The price had been reasonable (under $5.00) and we were again driving north, unwrapping veggie burgers as we went.

It was the second bite that told us something was wrong. There was nothing unusual about the hamburger bun, and the lettuce, tomato and onion were present, but there was nothing else! No veggie burger! They looked good until we bit into them, for we had essentially – nothing!

That’s so true of the religions and philosophies of this world. They often look good, but when you “bite” into them, they don’t satisfy your soul. When Jesus said, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35), He revealed that He is offering you peace with God and the joy of the Lord. Receive Him and you will be SATISFIED – forever!

“The Phantom of the Opera” is a fictional character, presented as a man of many mysteries. “God’s mystery” (Colossians 2:2) is not fictional at all, for He is the Son of God, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 3:3). He is Himself God, “for in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Colossians 3:9).

Jesus Christ loves you and He proved it by dying in your place. We have no spiritual “bread” and He has given us food for our souls. Actually, He IS our food, given by God, just as surely as the “manna” (bread from God) was given to ancient Israel.

Forgive us, Father, for the many times we have not trusted in You. We love You and trust in You now. Thank You for sending us the Son of God. We receive You, Lord. Send Your Spirit and let us live in You. In Jesus Name. Amen.

God bless you.
Friday Study Ministries
P.O. Box 92131
Long Beach, CA  90809-2131
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)


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