Matthew 8:1-17, January 26, 2020
Power of the King Revealed
5:23-24 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. News about Him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and He healed them.
8:1 After 110 verses (47, 34, 29 in chapters 5, 6, 7) When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him.
8:2-4 Healing/Cleansing of a Leper. 2 A man with leprosy came and worshipped Him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” How did this person, a leper get this close to Jesus? Lepers were to keep a minimum distance of six feet from those who were healthy, 150 feet if someone was downwind of the leper. They were scorned by everyone, especially rabbis who despised them and believed them justified in receiving no compassion or sympathy. No mercy. Instead one rabbi might boast he refused to buy even an egg on a street where he saw a leper; another would brag that he threw rocks at lepers upon seeing them (Guzik). Knowing all that, he still came to see Jesus and asked if he would make him clean. Two things he had going for him – 1) he was desperate and 2) he had great faith/hope in spite of everything he knew. His only hope was that Jesus could and would cleanse and heal him. No one would help him, no one would not get within six feet of him. How desperate was he? There were no stories of Jesus healing a leper, yet still he came alone with his desperation and hope. What happened?
3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” He said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.
4 Then Jesus said to him, “See that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” We know from Mark 1:44-45 the healed leper did not do as Jesus had requested, instead he went telling everyone he had contact with and as a result Jesus could no longer openly enter the city as people came at him from every direction for healing.
8:5-13 Healing of a Centurion’s Servant. 5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, asking for help (pleading with him NKJV). 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” This was as unusual and unexpected as the leper for Roman soldiers were almost universally hated by Jews – they were the occupying army. Yet the centurion called Jesus Lord, just as the leper had, honoring Him as his master and God. In PUBLIC!
Then an incredible exchange took place between the centurion and Jesus in verses 7-13. Let’s read them again.
And look again at what Jesus had to say about the centurion’s faith in verses ten and eleven:
10 When Jesus heard this, He was amazed (marveled NKJV) and said to those following Him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. Before He even heals the centurion’s servant, Jesus pokes a major hole in Jewish beliefs as He made it plain there would be Gentiles in the kingdom of heaven even sitting with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Many, maybe most, Jews believed only Jews would be in heaven – no Gentiles allowed.
Jesus could not have been more clear, Jew and Gentile alike will be in heaven and there will be many of us Gentiles along with the Jews.
Jesus had one more thing to say before He healed the centurion’s servant: 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Jesus had just told the great crowd following Him Gentiles would not be barred to the kingdom of God and now He was telling them they had no automatic guarantee to the kingdom because of their Jewish identity. Though they were sons or subjects of the kingdom, they could end up in hell, eternally separated from God and their Messiah. Only after delivering this message did Jesus heal the centurion’s servant.
13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.
8:14-17 Jesus Heals Many. From two extraordinary circumstances and healings Jesus heals the Peter’s mother in law with two miracles – healing her fever and giving her strength. Then 16 When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. From one leper, one servant of a centurion, and one woman, Peter’s mother in law, Jesus healed many and drove out demons with a word. Matthew tells us 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah (53:4): “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.”
This is not to cover verses 16 and 17, but from the first verse forward in this chapter as well as what we read in Matthew 4:23, 5:33, and 9:35.
Bottom Line: Jesus is for everyone, the untouchables (the leper), the hated (Roman soldiers and Gentiles) as well as men and women from His own people. His example for us is to exclude no one in loving and forgiving.