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November 14, 2023

Matthew Part 9

Before we talk about Chapter 8 entertain any questions about the Sermon on the Mount (Chaps 5-7).




Matthew 8:1-15

Before we talk about Chapter 8 entertain any questions about the Sermon on the Mount (Chaps 5-7). [Mention that you are taking a slightly different direction with the lesson than the quarterly did. Show slide of Capernaum from your Israel trip 2014.]

Scripture: Matthew 8:1-15.

After Jesus had finished His Sermon on the Mount the crowds who heard Him were astonished – they were amazed – at His teaching. They had never heard anyone speak like this before. The last verse of Chapter 7 says, “and He (Jesus) was teaching to them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. Well, if Jesus taught with authority the obvious question the Jews of that day would have been asking is, “By what authority does this man speak? He’s just upset our whole religious apple cart – what right does He have to say these things? Why should we even listen to Him?” Well in the next few chapters Jesus is going to answer this. Remember that Matthew’s purpose for writing His gospel is to show that Jesus is the Messiah King. And the King is about to display His power. Jesus is going to show them why He has the authority to say what He said. He will demonstrate to both Jews and Gentiles alike that He is no ordinary man, but that He is God, the God-man…God incarnate.

I find it very interesting that the first 3 of Jesus’ miracles which Matthew records – those we’re going to be looking at this morning – were Jesus healing a leper, a Gentile (the servant of a Gentile) and a woman. You have to understand that in the minds of the Jews and the Pharisees in particular these individuals represented the lowest level of their society. So then, Jesus is not only going to establish His authority by His healing power but He will demonstrate divine compassion by reaching out and touching the needs of those at the lowest levels. Jesus ministers to the very people that the prideful Pharisees turned away from.

First, let’s look at Jesus healing of a leper.

READ Matthew 8:1-4.

Leprosy is also known today as Hansen’s disease. Basically it is a skin infection caused by a mycobacterium. Leprosy in Jesus’ day was incurable and lepers were segregated from the rest of society into leper colonies. Leviticus 13 goes into great detail about various skin diseases,how a person was diagnosed, treated and pronounced as ceremonially unclean by the priests. The skin diseases most of the time were not leprosy. If it was determined that a person did in fact have leprosy then they were to be isolated outside the camp and warn all those that they would pass by that they were unclean. Basically lepers were shunned by society and they kept their distance from the average person. Leviticus 14 discusses in detail how a person who was cured of leprosy (by natural causes or supernaturally in answer to prayer) was to be ceremonially cleansed. It was a fairly involved process.

So when a leper approaches Jesus, this would be highly unusual. The leper kneels down in front of Jesus and he addresses Jesus as “Lord.” He acknowledges Jesus’ sovereignty and power to cure him, but he never demands to be healed. There was no name it and claim it in this passage. Instead he says, “if you will.” He submits to Jesus’ will. Then Jesus does the unthinkable. He reaches out and touches the leper. I’m sure that got the crowd’s attention! Jesus could have just spoken the word or gestured to the man, but Jesus physically reached out and touched this man. I believe Jesus realized how badly this man needed a touch. And Jesus responds to the leper, “I will, be clean.” And IMMEDIATELY his leprosy was cleansed. That is something you will notice about all of Jesus’ healing miracles – the healing is not a long drawn out process, there’s no rehab, no follow up treatments. None of that! No, when Jesus heals someone, the healing is immediate. That is something that only God can do. No faith healer or physicians that I know of can do that. Only God.

Verse 4 is an interesting verse. Jesus tells the man, after he has been cured of his leprosy, not to say anything to anyone, but to go and do something. Go do what Leviticus Chapter 14 says to do. Go to the priests and “show yourself” and become ceremonially cleansed. He tells the man to do this “for a proof to them” – to the priests. This man would be a walking testimony to the priests of what Jesus had done. There could be no denying of Jesus’ miracle in this man’s life. But that’s not what the man does. Mark’s account of this same miracle tells us that the man disobeyed Jesus. Mark says, “he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places.” We’re never told whether the man obeyed Jesus and showed himself to the priests. I like what John Grassmick says in his commentary on this passage: “Though the Law provided for the ritual purification of a leper, it was powerless to cleanse a person from the disease (Jesus) or to effect inward spiritual renewal (Holy Spirit).”

The second miracle we’re going to look at was the healing of the centurion’s servant. In the text it is not clear if the servant is a Jew or a Gentile, but what is the focus of the text is that it is a Gentile making the request for healing.

READ Matthew 8:5-13.

In Luke’s parallel account of this same event the centurion sends some of his Jewish servants to Jesus. The man’s servants put in a good word for the centurion. They tell Jesus, speaking of the centurion, “He is worthy for You to grant this to him; for he loves our nation and it was he who built us our synagogue.” So Jesus goes with them back to the centurion’s house and that’s where he enters into dialogue with the centurion. Just like the leper, this Gentile centurion calls Jesus, “Lord.” Then he acknowledges Jesus’ authority to heal. He basically says, “If I a Roman officer who has limited authority can give orders and they will be obeyed, how much more will Your orders, Jesus, be obeyed seeing that You possess all authority.” He is basically acknowledging Jesus as God. It is a truly an amazing statement coming from the mouth of a Roman soldier! You figure it’s going to take a lot to amaze Jesus, but this man amazed Jesus.

What a contrast to the faith that this Gentile had in Jesus to the lack of faith the Jews had in Jesus. Jesus states that the Gentiles will be a part of His kingdom. They will recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Jesus must have astounded the Jews standing around there when He declared that Gentiles will share in the kingdom promises with the Jews. In fact, Jesus goes one step further. He says that many Jews who think they will be a part of the kingdom just because of their blood ties to Abraham will, in fact, not be. He says that the “sons of the kingdom” (a reference to the Jews”) shall be cast out into the outer darkness.

After saying all of that, Jesus just speaks the word and the centurion’s servant is healed AT THAT VERY MOMENT. We are not told how Matthew knows this, but somehow he is aware of it. The servant is healed. Jesus didn’t even have to be physically present in the house to heal the servant. And again the healing is immediate. Only God can do that!

Well, there is one more miracle I want to discuss and that comes in verses 14-15. Jesus heals a Jewish woman.

READ Matthew 8:14-15.

The parallel account to this event in Luke 4 adds that Peter’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever. It also says “they (Peter and his family) made request of Him on her behalf.” Notice that they, like the centurion, asked that Jesus heal somebody they cared about. Well, the passage tells us that Jesus touched her hand and the fever LEFT HER. Once again the healing is immediate. She gets up and makes dinner for Him. Pretty quick recovery! Peter’s mother-in-law is lying sick with high fever one minute and then all of a sudden she’s in the kitchen getting dinner ready. No doctor can prescribe a medication that will do that. Only God can do that!

And Chapter 8 goes on to describe how Jesus calmed a storm just by speaking the words, “Peace! Be still!” (Mark 4:39) And the men marveled and said, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” Then later in this same chapter Jesus heals two demon possessed men. The demons leave the men and go into a herd of pigs and the pigs rush down the bank and into the sea and are drowned. Then in Chapter 9 Jesus goes on to heal a paralytic, raise a dead girl, restore the sight of two blind men and heals a man who is mute. 

It is truly amazing what Jesus does just in Chapters 8 and 9. Here we have Jesus who cleanses a leper, heals a servant, raises up a woman with a high fever, calms the raging sea, casts out demons, makes the blind to see, makes crippled people walk, makes dumb people speak, heals every single sickness that's brought to Him. What an incredible display of power! All this is done and recorded by Matthew to prove without any question why Jesus has the authority to say what He says. Here it is – don’t miss it: Because He is God! And yet, sadly, with all of that, the Jews turned their backs on Jesus. The Pharisees who cannot see the forest for the trees because of their spiritual blindness come to the conclusion in Chapter 9 and verse 34 that what Jesus does, He does by the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons. They hated Jesus. In fact, they plotted to kill Him, primarily because he upset their religious security.

Here is the application: Jesus is the King. Those who place their faith in Him and follow Him will enter the kingdom, no matter who they are. Even Gentiles; even Roman soldiers. Those who reject Jesus will go to hell, no matter who they are, even the children of Abraham. So the question for all of us is simply this: who do you say that Jesus is? Will you follow Him? Will you obey Him? Will you let Him heal your life?

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Matthew 8:1-15

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