Gospel Thoughts: Matthew 8
|1 When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched||him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.|
Jesus Heals a Man with Leprosy
At this point in his ministry, Jesus had many followers. Great multitudes now followed Christ to hear his teachings and witness his great miracles. At the beginning of Matthew’s eighth chapter, Jesus heals a man of leprosy. This disease meant that the leper was kept away from the general community and sent to dwell with other lepers. In the first century there was no known cure, so people were afraid of leprosy.
Leprosy causes nerve damage, muscle failure that leads to blindness and deformity of the body. It also affects the appearance of the skin. This disease was regarded as an awful punishment from the Lord. I am sure you can imagine leprosy is a very unpleasant condition have. There are some countries around the world where this disease still affects people today.
The leper knew that Jesus had the power to heal him. He begged Christ to make him clean. However, the man knew that Christ would only heal him if He was willing. Christ was willing and immediately the man was cleansed. Sin is like leprosy, only Christ can heal men and women from the sickness of sin. Only Christ can make us clean and make us fit to live in the community of saints both on earth and above. The law required a leper to be examined by the priest before he was able to re-join the community (Leviticus 14).
|5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. 7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.||10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.|
The Centurion Soldier Demonstrates Faith
When Jesus entered the village of Capernaum in Northern Israel he was approached by a Roman soldier. The soldier came to Christ and pleaded with Him to help his servant who was paralysed. We read that Christ was willing to heal the servant. The centurion did not regard himself as worthy enough to have Christ as a guest in his house. He beseeched Christ to merely say the word and his servant would be made whole.
The centurion tells Christ about his authority as a Roman army officer. A centurion was an officer in control of over 100 soldiers. The ruthless control of the Romans made them a figure of hate in Israel. The Jews were expecting their Messiah to drive out the Romans from Israel and free them from Roman rule. The fact that Christ does not do that teaches us that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world.
This centurion had genuine faith in Christ. We learn from the text that this faith displayed amazed Christ. He said that he has not seen such great faith in all Israel. Jesus uses this opportunity to teach that it is a lack of faith that keeps people out of the Kingdom of God. Throughout Matthew’s gospel, he makes the point that the message of Christ is for everyone. “East and West” about the four corners of the world.
|14 And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever. 15 And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them. 16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: 17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses. 18 Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.||19 And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. 21 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.|
Jesus Heals Many People
We read about Jesus healing Peter’s wife’s mother. We do not read in the text of anyone asking Jesus to heal Peter’s mother-in-law. Jesus had great compassion on her and healed her of her sickness. We learn from the text that the healing was immediate. By evening many people who were possessed by demons were brought to Christ. They were also healed by him. This was done so that the words of the Prophet Isaiah were fulfilled. Isaiah 53:4 is fulfilled here.
The Cost of Discipleship
A certain scribe came to Christ and desired to follow him. The scribe declared that wherever Christ would go he would follow him. This ought to be the desire of all Christian people. The scribe wanted to follow Jesus, but he wanted to take care of other things before following Christ. It is possible from verse 21 that the scribe wanted to put off following Jesus until after his father had died. This is a noble reason, but not a legitimate one. We can find all manner of reasons to put off following Christ. No matter what excuse we come up with none will be good enough. Following Christ is not easy. Jesus tells us that the foxes and birds have a home, but the Son of Man has no place to call home. Becoming a Christian is costly. Have you counted the cost? Many Christian people have lost friends, family, jobs, security and much more to follow the Saviour. The cost of following Christ is worthy because we have great gain in the cross of Christ. The benefits of true faith are far greater than the loss and cost.
|23 And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. 24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. 25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.||26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. 27 But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!|
Jesus Calms a Storm
In this passage of Scripture, we read about a great storm that arose. This must have been a very dangerous storm because it caused great fear to set in the hearts the apostles, among whom were some experienced fishermen. The fact that Jesus was asleep in the boat tells us that he needed rest like everyone. His physical body required sleep. This fact teaches us a profound truth, even when Jesus was asleep, he was still in control of the situation. God is always in control of events. They woke Jesus as they were afraid. Christ first rebukes their lack of faith in his ability to control the elements and protect them.
Jesus rebuked the wind and the sea, and immediately there was a great calm. Not only were the seas calmed, but their hearts and souls were calmed by Christ. By this point, the apostles marvelled. This event must have strengthened their faith in Christ as he demonstrated his authority over the weather.
|28 And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. 29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? 30 And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. 31 So the devils besought him, saying, If||thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. 32 And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. 33 And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.|
Jesus Heals Two Men with Demons
The country of Gergesenes is located southeast of the Sea of Galilee. It is nearby the town of Gadara. Today, it is the modern El-Koursi. Gergesenes means “those who come from pilgrimage or fight.”
Jesus met with two demons possessed people. People who are plagued with demons are under their control. Demons are fallen angels who have joined with Satan to rebel against God and his plans. According to Jewish law, these men would have been viewed as unclean, still, Jesus helps them despite what the culture and customs dictate.
It is important to note from the text that even the demons and Satan know that Jesus is the Son of God. When the demons entered the pigs, they drove them into the sea. This shows us that demons desire to destroy and damage men and women. The demons fear the power of Christ. He can control the forces of darkness and thwart their wicked desires.