Jesus Heals | Matthew 8:1-17 (Mville)
Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 8:1–8:17
Good Morning! At Damascus Road we regularly preach right through books of the bible. Currently we are in the book of Matthew the gospel account of Jesus as the Savior-King of God’s people. Matthew is long and will take us a total of nearly 90 weeks to preach through the whole book so we have broken it up into 5 parts. Part I, The King has Come, looked the birth of Jesus as the promised messiah and the incarnation of God into human history, the beginning of his ministry as Jesus was tempted in the wilderness and succeed where the first man Adam failed. Jesus called his first disciples, literally those who would follow him and assist in spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven, the good news of turning from sin and turning towards God. As Jesus was preaching and teaching, he was also healing the sick, and his fame grew beginning in the poor region of Galilee and spreading throughout Judea and even into Jerusalem. As a great crowd formed around him, Jesus went up a hill and began to preach what we know as the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus gives the seemingly simple yet incredibly deep command to love God and love people. As we closed part I last week, we saw Jesus ending his sermon with a clear warning there is no value in hearing Jesus instructions without actively living them out. Citizens in God’s kingdom, adopted into the King’s family, are to be hearers AND doers of the king’s commands. Today as we begin Part 2 of Matthew, chapter 8-13, we are transitioning from the Message of the King to the Mission of the King. We take the mission of King Jesus seriously so as we look three accounts of Jesus healing and savings works it will be through the lenses of our core values of Gospel Truth, Gospel Community, and Gospel Living.
8 When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. 2 And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 3 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”
5 When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 6 “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” 7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant,‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.
14 And when Jesus entered Peter's house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. 16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick.17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”
V1-5 Leper - Gospel Truth
Gospel Truth brings God and His Word to the people. God's Word, the Bible, distinguishes the Christian message from other religions, philosophies, or ideologies that make truth claims about meaning and purpose in our live and the world. It is submission to the absolute truth of God being foundational to all of life. Gospel Truth is not purely historical facts to know or theological principals to believe, it is the personification and embodiment of truth in a man who is God. Gospel truth is the news of what God has done to accomplish salvation for His people in history through Jesus Christ. Gospel Truth has to be spoken, it has to be proclaimed it has to be taught. Jesus preaches so we preach.
Chapter 8 begins on the heels of what is likely the greatest sermon ever preached. Gospel Truth was proclaimed. Many heard the sermon and now it is time for people to respond to the truth. We do not know how everyone responded, but we do know in the crowd was a man who heard the call and said “Yes, I want to be in that kingdom where the King adopts sinners as his children and makes them citizens of a new kingdom. Jesus I bow before you as king asking to be restored and made new knowing you are powerful to accomplish anything.” We don’t know this man’s name or much about his life but we know who he is apart from the healing work of Jesus. He is a leper. This means he was suffering from a form of leprosy. Far from being specific this was a big category covering of a variety of skin diseases. In the book of Leviticus there are three whole chapters dedicated to breaking out what is and isn’t considered “leprous” and how these maladies where to be dealt with. To be classified as a leper was much more than a mere medial designation, it was a social stigma that quite literally completely removed you from the community.
This man was going through his normal everyday life of work, family, and community when at some point he woke up and found part of his skin discolored or infected. He hoped and prayed it would go away or heal, he washed, he covered and continue about his life. His skin didn’t heal, the infection went deeper and spread. He knows what this means, but he hopes, prays, and cleans more to no avail until his disease has spread so far and so deep he can no longer keep it hidden from those around him. He comes before the priest who examine him and following the Law of Moses immediately place him in a week of quarantine before examining him again, it’s not better it is worse. This man’s greatest fear is realized he is not clean he is leprous. The priests give him the official pronouncement that defines who he is in relation to all other people. He is “unclean.” His clothes are stripped and burned. To prevent his disease from spreading, he is not be touched at all. No more hugs from his children, no embrace from his bride, no meals with family, no participation worship services, or with the community. He is cast out and begins a life of complete isolation.
Lev 13:45-46 45 “The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ 46 He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.
To all who may come near him he is constantly warn them of his condition and in doing so he is reinforcing a new identity as his disease is now what defines him. In the Lord of the Rings, Smegal become Gollum as sin and desire take greater and great hold over his identity. This is the dehumanizing nature of sin. It strips us of our individual value and separates from community. Disease and sin are in a way similar; the effects of both can easily spread and cannot be contained so they keeps us from other people and a Holy God
Gospel Truth says God created us good and clean, but because of sin we are infected with a disease that makes us “unclean”. God is good and gracious to us, and He pursues healing and restoration. This healing can only come from the person and work of Jesus. Jesus preaches the gospel that the kingdom of heaven is open for those who are poor in spirit, who know their need for God’s healing and restoration, and hunger and thirst for righteousness, for wholeness, who want to be made clean. The leper hears Gospel Truth being preached by Jesus, it stirs his heart as he deeply recognizes his need for healing that cannot come from himself but can only come from God. He is moved to action as he seeks healing by coming before Jesus, kneeling in worship, and submitting his identity of “unclean” to the merciful will of the King.
Jesus acts and does something no one else is willing to do to accomplish something no one else is able to do. He reaches out and touches him, this should make Jesus ceremonially “unclean” because he came in contact with the disease. The disease of the leper should infect and redefine Jesus, instead opposite happens. Jesus cleanliness, his righteousness, instantly overpowers the disease and overwhelms the man’s identity of “unclean” as he is now covered, transformed, and pronounced “clean” by the king. This is a picture of the Gospel Truth of “gift righteousness”, or what Martin Luther called the Great Exchange. We give Jesus our sin and he gives us his righteousness as we are made new by him and through him.
2 Cor 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Cor 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
This man has a new identity because Jesus makes new. Out of his new identity Jesus gives the man instructions to follow in walking out the new life Jesus has given him. Jesus tells him to show himself to the priests, the ones who had previously declared him “unclean” and make offering required to be reinstated and welcomed back into the life of the community. Jesus knows sin and disease can infect us skin deep and heart deep; he wasn’t just concerned with the man’s physical health he knows there is relational pain to be healed and restored that can only come from the man walking in obedience to Jesus instructions.
There is a process to full restoration and it can be costly. Leviticus 14 outlines the process a clean former leper would go through before returning to the community. It included a gift or sacrifice to be given. Two birds would be taken. The first would be killed signifying the “unclean” period of the man’s life was over and dead. The second bird was dipped in the blood of the first. The man who was previously “unclean” is now pronounced “clean” by the priest and the second bird was released to fly away signifying the new freedom the man would enjoy with his new identity. This is beautiful picture of the gospel of Jesus death and resurrection. The gift was given by the newly clean leper as a response to the identity he was given by Jesus. I have to imagine the man (no longer a leper) didn’t see the cost of obedience as burdensome but eagerly followed Jesus command. It was given joyfully but it did have a cost. The man was then able to return to his life, family, and community. Restoration means a return to the community God intends for us.
V5-13 Centurion’s Servant – Gospel Community
Gospel community brings people to God. God created us in his image to live in community together, imitating the eternal relationship shared by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Gospel Community is a gathering of people in loving submission to one another, fulfilling their God-intended role to serve one another and the Lord. Gospel Community proclaims their faith in Gospel Truth by how they actively love through fellowship, ministry, and discipline. Gospel Community is where the world hears about the love of God, where it sees the love for God, and where it experiences the love of God's people. Gospel Community exists as an expression of God's Kingdom on earth. Jesus loves people so we love people.
We see Gospel Community on display in the life of the centurion and the words and actions of Jesus.
As Jesus enters the community of Capernaum, like the leper previously a Roman Centurion comes before Jesus seeking healing. Unlike the leper, his motivation is entirely differently he doesn’t come to Jesus for his own healing he is seeking Jesus for the healing and benefit of another. Likely the highest ranking officer in the area, with at least a hundred other soldiers under his authority, this man humbly comes before Jesus. He recognizes despite his rank he is unable to save another man’s life and knows only Jesus has the power.
Luke 7:2-5 2 Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. 3 When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. 4 And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, 5 for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.”
Despite being a Roman solider charged with oppressing and controlling this region of Israel he was loved by the people in the community because of his active love for them. At great expense and effort he built a synagogue for people he was supposed to subjugate. Because he loved people, he used his time, talent, and treasure to make a space for God’s people to come together for Gospel Community to happen.
The Centurion had both a love of God’s people and love for people suffering. He saw great value even in an individual others would have seen as a lowly servant. That value he saw leads him to concern and care enough to seek Jesus on behalf of someone most would likely show little care for. This is called Intercession. He cares for his servant a person who he has status and authority over, who because of his paralysis is unable to advocate for himself. The Centurion doesn’t leave him to take care of himself. “figure it out, I can walk why can’t you?” Recognizes others need of Jesus and pursues Jesus to work in their lives. (Pray for people!!!) Matthew says his servant was paralyzed and suffering terribly, Luke said “at the point of death”, he was hopeless and far from Jesus. Gospel Community says no one is so far gone, suffering so terribly, or so hopeless they cannot be brought to Jesus to be saved and healed.
The Centurion is humble and sees there are religious, political, and cultural barriers that cannotbe crossed. He is Roman and Jesus is Jewish. Jews did not mix with gentiles, so he says “don’t even come to my house. I am not worthy, but I know your power and authority can cross any barriers men say is impassable. Gospel Community recognizes none of us are worthy yet Jesus heals anyway. Jesus responses with “you are varsity!” There isn’t Varsity and JV but if there was Jesus giving you a commendation like “not even in Israel is there such deep and honest faith.”, is a close as you are going to get. Jesus uses the Centurions faith and actions an example worthy of emulating. Gospel Community is something that cannot always be taught by instruction it has to be modeled well, witnessed by others, called out for what it is, and then repeated by others. Jesus also uses this opportunity to show people the boarders of his kingdom are dramatically different than the lines drawn by the world.
Is 25:6-8 On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. 7 And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. 8He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.
Gospel Community is defined by hospitality, simply considering others needs above your own. Making people feel valued. We are hospitable because we realize we are not worthy to be at that great feast the Bible consistently points us to, yet “many will come from the East and the West” while some the world thinks should be part of God’s family based on their good works, race, or religion alone will be cast out. There are going to be people outside the boxes we typically think of, who will be saved by Jesus to Jesus. Gospel Community is radically inclusive around the radically exclusiveness of Jesus Christ.
V14-16 Peter’s Mother-in-Law and others – Gospel Living
Gospel Living brings God's Lordship to our lives. God conforms us to the image of His Son, calling us to a life in total submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Gospel living is a life of self-denial lived for the approval of God, not men. Gospel Living is humble, sacrificing the pleasures of the world to love and serve. Gospel Living is continuous worship, glorifying God in everything big and small. Gospel living is on mission, fulfilling His call to go into the world and make disciples. Gospel Living is where Jesus is the supreme hope and joy in all of life and death. Jesus is holy and on mission so we are holy and on mission.
Gospel Living initiates. Jesus was going about his life with the disciples in community, and comes into Peter’s house. Jesus sees a need and acts on it. Peter’s Mother-in-Law wasn’t seeking Jesus healing yet Jesus came to her, found her, and was moved by her condition of having a “great fever”. Funny, it doesn’t record Peter advocating for his mother-in-law. Jesus does more than merely remove her fever, He restores her to full strength and stamina. She responds with the only legitimate response there is to the healing work of Jesus in a person’s life, she begins to serve him. She is saved to serve, we are saved to serve.
This has been a pretty awesome, but I am sure exhausting day for Jesus. He has preached a great sermon, and performed at least three miraculous healings. It’s time for a nap and a sandwich. But there are more than a hand full of individuals who are in desperate need of Jesus’ healing and salvation. There is a big mission. Jesus doesn’t call it a day, he never stops living on mission. All evening the sick and the demon possessed are brought to Jesus for spiritual and physical healing, and Jesus doesn’t stop healing. His desire and ability to save and heal are inexhaustible, as is his compassion towards those who need it and come to him. Because we know there are many who need salvation and healing, and because we know Jesus has limitless ability to save, we don’t stop living on mission bringing all people before Jesus.
V17 The Cross
Matthew closes this section of scripture saying beyond Jesus profound compassion for the sick, there was an even greater and specific purpose for the healing works of Jesus. Matthew points us back to the prophet Isaiah to show Jesus was specifically fulfilling the promise of the coming suffering servant in chapter 53. This chapter was often used by the early church to explain the ministry of Jesus, as it shows the reality of the Holy God, The Father, laying the sin (and the sickness) of His people on His Son as the sacrificial Lamb.
Isaiah 53:3-5 3He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.
Gospel Living, in Gospel Community, under Gospel Truth will always lead us back to the cross of Jesus. King Jesus’ mission is healing and saving by suffering on the cross. He suffered so we serve. Trust Jesus!
More in Mission of the King | Matthew Part II
September 14, 2014Rejecting Jesus | Matthew 13:53-58 (Mville)
September 7, 2014Parables of Kingdom Power and Price | Matthew 13 (Mville)
August 31, 2014Parables of the Kingdom | Matthew 13 (Mville)