Matthew 8: A Healing Gospel

November 2, 2021   /   Palms Baptist Church Bible Study

*Matthew 5-7 emphasize the teaching ministry of Jesus. Chapter 8 emphasizes the healing Ministry of Jesus

Jesus’ Example and the Point of Ministry:

  • Ministry should
  • Ministry should
  • Ministry should
  • Ministry should

The Point of Jesus’ Healing:

  • Gospel of John: Healing emphasize Christ’s
  • Gospel of Mark: Healing emphasize Christ’s
  • Gospel of Luke: Healing confirms Christ’s
  • Gospel of Matthew: Healing emphasize Christ’s

*Chapter 8 begins narratives that provide practical examples of Jesus living out His teachings

*Healings in chapter 8 reinforce Christ’s heart/intention/character, His authority, and His power

28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 

  • The end of Matthew 7 states that the crowds were amazed not just by His works, but by His teachings

A man with leprosy[a] came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

The Leper’s approaches Jesus with intention to be

  • Notice that Matthew names him a leper, but the man does not ask to be healed of leprosy rather to be “made clean”
    • Remember the theme of the sermon on the mount: its all about the heart and intention

The Leper approaches Jesus with intention to

  • The Greek word for “knelt before” is pros-koo-nay-o which literally means “to kiss” and implies divine worship

The Leper approaches Jesus with (Beatitudes in Matthew 5)

  • Remember the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:10 – “Your will be done, on earth”

*The leper anchors his request not on his will, but on Christ’s will

The Leper offers Jesus a

  • The Greek for “Lord” here is “Kurios” which means “Lord with inherent power and authority
    • The only people called “Kurios” in Jesus’ day was royalty

*Remember Matthew 1: “the Messiah, Son of David, Son of Abraham” i.e. every narrative reinforces Jesus as Savior, as King, or as ultimate Jew

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. 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.”

  • Two touching observations:
    • We don’t contaminate Jesus, but Jesus purifies us
      • Per Jewish tradition, the only thing more unclean than a leper is a dead body
      • Here, Jesus demonstrates that touching a leper doesn’t make Jesus unclean, rather the leper touching Jesus makes him clean
    • Jesus provided every need
      • Jesus’ Day
        • In Jewish tradition, you had to stay 6 feet away from a leper (Sound familiar?) or 45 feet away if down wind from one
        • They were not allowed to live within society
        • They couldn’t go to temple
        • Believed to be highly contagious
      • Modern Day
        • Not as contagious
        • Treatable with anti-biotics
        • Predominant in poor, crowded areas (India, Brazil, Cuba, Salvador)
        • HIGH incubation period 1-5 years
        • It’s a children’s disease!

*Jesus did not need to Touch the man to heal Him – Christ’s authority heals. He touched Him because the man had not been touched probably since he was a child

  • Jesus said, “I am willing”
    • We need to remember that Christ is willing to heal – Remember Matthew 7:7 – If you ask it will be given
  • “Don’t tell anyone”
    • Jesus did not heal to parade around a “glory trophy,” but His heart/intention was the man – Remember Matthew 6 and 7, if you do it for the praise of men then you received your reward
      • Here, Jesus’ reward is not just glory and worship of men He rightly deserves, but HEALING THE LEPER!
  • “Show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded”
    • Refers to the command in Leviticus 14. Gift offered and purification ceremony conducted
    • Only 15 lepers are healed in the Bible, 12 were by Jesus
      • Three in the OT: Moses, Miriam, and Naaman
        • Moses and Miriam received and were healed before the Law was given
        • Naaman was a gentile

*Meaning, this is probably the FIRST time this ceremony was ever conducted! This should have pointed the priests to Jesus as Messiah!

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”

  • A Centurion is essentially equivalent to a modern infantry company commander
  • Greek word for “Lord;” again is Kurios…centurion identifies Jesus with inherent power

*Every Centurion in the New Testament is depicted as men of honor and respect

Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.

  • This entire situation is not normal; and frankly, suspicious:
    • He is gentile
    • He is a Roman officer
    • It was expected, and a duty, that a master kill his servant if he was suffering or no longer able to fulfill their duties
      • Greek word here literally means “a male child under training”
  • Jesus is testing the centurion’s sincerity/intentions – “Shall I come heal him?”
    • Jews believed it insulting to enter the home of a gentile – especially a Roman
    • Romans certainly believed themselves higher than the conquered Jews they Lorded over

*The centurion shows considerations for Jesus’ sensitivities. He is not trying to put Jesus in a position that could offend Him or others. Centurion’s intentions are sincerely for the well-being of his servant but also Jesus; and sincerely believes Jesus can heal him

 For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

  • The Centurion understands how authority and power works, and he understands Jesus possesses TRUE power and authority. True authority and power comes from merely commanding it

10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed 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. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

  • American metaphor:
    • Israel’s national identity was on God’s Law
    • America’s national identity is on our constitution and bill of rights
    • Jesus essentially says, a gentile has proven more true to the intent of the Law then a Jew
    • Like saying during a “red dawn” occupation that China remains more true to the ideals of the constitution than our own congress

*Remember one of the primary points of Matthew is giving Jewish believers permission to go share the gospel to gentiles and break bread with gentile believers. Here, Christ confirms that fact in this narrative

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.

  • As the Centurion said, true authority and power needs nothing more than mere commands. Jesus commanded, it happened.

Quick Thoughts and Reflection Points on the rest of Chapter 8

14 When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him.

  • Thought: Peter’s mother-in-law was not dying, but sick. Jesus cares for the small infirmities too!
  • Reflect on: When Jesus touches us and impacts our life (even in the small things), our response should be serving Him and others. Is that your response?

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. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:

“He took up our infirmities
    and bore our diseases.”

  • Thought: Matthew re-introduces the idea of spiritual warfare here. Christ is on conquest, and war is costly
  • Reflect: Do you ever reflect on the fact that Jesus’ ministry cost him? Every time Jesus heals, He “takes up our infirmities” and “bears our disease.” The cross was not easy, but His ministry was not easy either

18 When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

  • Thought: Many think this is Jesus’ way of telling the man He needs a place to sleep, but Jesus is really telling the teacher of the law the nature of what it means to follow Him. Its not luxurious, its not comfortable, its not certain.
  • Reflection: Jesus is honest about what following Him looks like. Many believers carry a romantic view of ministry and what its like, but in reality Jesus is honest about the fact that its not that comfortable.

21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

  • Thought: The man is saying, “My father is old, I will come serve you when he dies.” Jesus says, “Don’t wait, serve me now”
  • Reflection: The man wants to follow Jesus and knows he should follow Jesus, but doesn’t want to follow him yet. Jesus says to follow me means I’m the priority. Are you waiting for certain conditions to follow Jesus? More money? More time? When your older? Out of the Marine Corps? Etc.

23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

  • Thought: Remember the “Sermon on the Mount” about not worrying? Jesus was sleeping and at peace, so the disciples should have been also. Jesus was more concerned about the faith of His disciples then the storm. He rebuked them before He rebuked the storm.
  • Reflection: Jesus was not concerned about the disciples situation, He was concerned by their lack of faith through it. How often do you believe your situation is bigger then God?

27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

  • Thought: It was easier for Jesus to get the winds and waves to listen to Him then it was for the disciples to listen. The fact is that no situation is harder than your own faith in it…the greater the faith, the easier the situation. No faith, impossible situation
  • Reflection: Do you ever pray, “God do you not see what is going on in my life?” and consider God may respond, “Do you not see what is going inside yourself?”

Pre-liminary Thought on This Narrative

  • This is actually nested under a Hebrew joke (Yes, Jesus is telling a joke here)
    • It’s more of a point in Luke’s gospel, but a common saying in Israel when two Jews saw a Roman legion marching was one would ask, “I wonder where they are marching too” and the other would respond with, “Hopefully of a cliff”

In Luke’s gospel, the demons identify themselves as “legion”; just like a “Roman Legion” so Christ marches them off a cliff!

28 When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes,[c] two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. 29 “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted.

  • Thought: Spiritual warfare again. But notice the comparison to the last narrative. The disciples said, “What kind of man is this?” where the demons say, “What do you want with us, SON OF GOD?” The demons knew more about who Christ was, and yet did not belong to Jesus. Knowing and accepting who Jesus is, is essential. But its not enough. The demons knew and “Believed” who Jesus was, but their intentions were not for the Kingdom of heaven but the kingdom of earth
  • Reflection: Do you merely “believe” in the identity of Jesus, or is your heart truly intended for His kingdom?

“Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”30 Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31 The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”

  • Thought: Notice where the demons operate. First, in the tombs (nothing more unclean than associating with dead bodies), then request into the pigs (not kosher and unclean)
  • Reflection: A heart towards God is a heart towards being clean (See leper narrative earlier), but a heart towards the world leads you into the unclean. Reflect on the sin in your life, and you’ll find the true intentions of the heart.

32 He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. 

  • Thought: Why the pigs? They are unclean and the demons, like sin, desires unclean things. But it also shows the demons, and sins ultimate intention, destruction! Jesus grants the request to expose the true intention of unclean things and unclean pursuits leads not to happiness but to destruction
  • Reflection: This narrative should open our eyes to what sin ultimately intends to do. We desire unclean things because a part of us thinks it makes us, or will make us happy, but Jesus wanted to be VERY clear about where the road of sin go’s

33 Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.

  • Thought: People fear power and authority when it is in opposition to their lifestyle. People RUN from Jesus because they don’t like the power and authority He brings to conviction
  • Reflection: Truth is, most of us are living with a similar response. We ask Jesus to leave certain areas of our life because we don’t want to leave the things that are convicting us. We opt for EVICTION instead of allowing CONVICTION. Where in your life is their conviction, but instead allowing Jesus to heal you, you evict Him? Sex? Marriage? Work? Money?

Questions for Guided Discussion

  1. Read vs. 1: Great crowds followed Jesus because they were amazed by His teaching. Does the teachings of Jesus and the gospel system amaze you? Do you find it revolutionary? Does it create a sense of awe as applied practically to life situations?
  2. Read vs. 2-4: Does the example of the leper clarify what living the “Sermon on the Mount” looks like? His intention for God? His worship? His submission to Christ’s will? His recognition of Christ’s authority?
  3. The leper asks Jesus if He is willing, and Jesus responds, “I am willing.” How does knowing God is willing to help you change your approach towards Him? Towards life? Towards prayer?
  4. Matthew tells us that the leper asked to be “made clean,” so Jesus “Touched him.” How has Jesus touched you? How has that experience purified you? Made you clean?
  5. Jesus gave the leper more than he asked for. The leper was not only made clean, but Jesus fulfilled his other need for intimacy. Share any examples when God gave you more and better than you asked for.
  6. Jesus told the leper not to tell anyone of the miracle, but only to remain obedient to the Law after the fact. Jesus showed His intention is not to USE people, but His intention is FOR people. Jesus did not heal so everyone could see it and put on a show, but His reward was the healing of the leper. Is your intention for people? When you help someone, is your reward and satisfaction for the person, or the praise of people who see it?
  7. Read verse 5-8: Like Jesus in the previous narrative, the Centurion shows sincere intention for the well-being of his servant, but also sincere consideration to Jewish sensitivities that could stress Jesus. Reflect on your own intentions of life, then ask, “Do I consider the sensitivities of others in my conduct or positions?” Do you put God in situations with your requests that can breed claims against Him?


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