The Healer; The Caller (Part One)
March 16, 2014
Topic: Sermon Passage: Matthew 8:1–8:34
“The HEALER; the CALLER”
Chapter 8 of Matthew picks up from where chapter 4 left off, with the Sermon on the Mount in-between: 4:23.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus basically told the scribes and Pharisees that everything they TAUGHT was wrong; their way of LIVING was wrong; & their ATTITUDE was wrong: 7:28-29.
In chapters 8-9, Jesus PROVES by His miraculous POWER that He is UNDOUBTEDLY the SON of GOD. (Most of chapters 8-9 are paralleled in Mark & Luke. Matthew is more concerned with the THEME than the chronological ORDER of the events.)
JOHN’S gospel made the same emphasis: John 20:30-31.
In these 2 chapters, we read of 9 MIRACLES (or 10; 2 occur during the same sequence): 3 groups of 3 miracles each.
In each case, Jesus IGNORES CULTURAL taboos & demonstrates COMPASSION to those who had been OSTRACIZED from society.
The first 3 miracles all involve HEALING from some PHYSICAL affliction, in which Jesus demonstrates His POWER as well as His COMPASSION for those who were suffering.
All 3 miracles were for the BENEFIT of those who, according to the scribes & Pharisees, were UNWORTHY of RESPECT as human beings.
8:1-2 – the actions of this leper are ASTOUNDING, as they were FORBIDDEN from approaching “clean” people.
Notice that the leper doesn’t QUESTION that Jesus could HEAL him; only if He was WILLING to heal him. There is FAITH!
Came CONFIDENTLY to Jesus: “you can make me clean”
Came REVERENTLY to Jesus: “knelt before him”
Came HUMBLY to Jesus.
8:3 – it must have been YEARS since this man had experienced contact with anyone but ANOTHER leper.
Jesus could have healed the man WITHOUT a touch, so He is making an OBVIOUS point in doing so.
Notice also that the healing was INSTANTANEOUS.
We need to see the SPIRITUAL APPLICATION from this healing event:
Leprosy was physically DESTRUCTIVE & INCURABLE – SIN is TOTALLY destructive, &, on our own, INCURABLE.
Leprosy SEPARATES lepers from FELLOWSHIP with others – SIN severs our fellowship WITH GOD.
As with the leper, sinners must come to Christ HUMBLY, REVERENTLY, & in CONFESSION of their need, completely RELIANT on His GRACE.
The FIRST REQUIREMENT of a believer is OBEDIENCE to God: 8:4.
Warren Wiersbe: “This man did not obey Christ; he told everybody what the Lord had done! Christ tells us to tell everybody, and we keep quiet!”
8:5-6 – the COMPASSION of this centurion for his servant is noteworthy: Luke 7:2-5.
8:7 – Jesus was willing to enter the home of a GENTILE, & gentiles, like the leper, were UNCLEAN.
8:8-9 – this centurion RECOGNIZED & RESPECTED AUTHORITY. Anyone in authority knows he can ISSUE ORDERS & know they will be OBEYED even if he is not PRESENT.
8:9 – “even I can secure ACTION at a DISTANCE!” When a CENTURION gave orders, he was OBEYED because he spoke with the AUTHORITY of the EMPORER. This man understood that JESUS spoke with the authority OF GOD.
8:10 – the FOCUS is on the FAITH of the centurion, not the sufferer.
Twice in the gospels we are told that Jesus MARVELED: here, at the great faith of the centurion; & in Mark 6:6, at the great UNBELIEF of the Jews.
8:11-12 – those with less ADVANTAGE & OPPORTUNITY than the JEWS would show greater RESPONSE & receive greater REWARD than the Jews.
8:12 – Emil Bruner: “Hell is not a doctrine used to frighten unbelievers; it is a doctrine used to warn those who think themselves believers.”
8:14-15 – as with LEPERS, touching WOMEN in this fashion was frowned upon.
A common prayer of the religious elite: “Lord, I thank Thee that I was not born a slave, a Gentile, or a woman.”
In these 3 MIRACLES, Jesus shows COMPASSION for all 3 CATEGORIES of people.
8:16-17 – CHARISMATICS appeal to Matt. 8:17 to justify their belief that there is HEALING for PHYSICAL ailments in the ATONEMENT.
There is healing, but it is up to God to choose WHEN & HOW to DISPENSE it. PERFECT healing awaits the RETURN of Christ.
Verse 17 SUMMARIZES the truth that Jesus was willing to become UNCLEAN in order to make OTHERS CLEAN.
V.17 – HOW did Jesus FULFILL this prophecy?
By SYMPATHIZING with our pain & sickness. Heb. 4:15: “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses.”
By DEALING with sin so ULTIMATELY & DECISIVELY that it will someday, along with PAIN & SUFFERING, CEASE to EXIST among God’s people. (His HEALINGS, then, were a PREVIEW of DAILY LIFE in His COMING KINGDOM.)
All 3 – pain, suffering, & sin – are STILL WITH us. But ULTIMATE DELIVERANCE from them all has been ASSURED by the CROSS.
1 Pet. 2:24: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”
What do these miracle stories TEACH us about SIN & its CURE?
We are ALL spiritually SICK, & there is no HUMAN REMEDY.
We NEED a HEALER.
FAITH is NECESSARY.
The STAKES are LIFE or DEATH.
Jesus not only has AUTHORITY over sickness, nature, & demons, He also has authority over the lives of HIS DISCIPLES.
If we are going to FOLLOW Jesus, we must come to Him on HIS TERMS.
8:18-19 – as a SCRIBE, this man put himself at ODDS with his fellow scribes, who were in clear OPPOSITION to Jesus.
Notice that the man refers to Jesus as “TEACHER:” that was a title given to Christ only by those who didn’t FULLY BELIEVE in Him. The title was ACCURATE, but not ADEQUATE.
Like PETER who later said he would NEVER BETRAY Jesus, this man was undoubtedly SINCERE in his claim.
Though PROFESSING TOTAL allegiance, Jesus recognizes that the man is not AWARE of what total allegiance actually INVOLVES.
Jesus did not QUESTION his sincerity, but called attention to some of the DEMANDS of FOLLOWING Him: 8:20. (“Son of man” was used over 80 times in NT; Jesus favorite way of referring to Himself.)
8:21 – “DISCIPLE” was used to describe people with VARYING LEVELS of commitment & attachment to Jesus.
This referred to the OLDER son’s responsibility to help in his father’s business until his death – but God will save NO one who comes to Him with STRINGS attached!
8:22 – whereas the previous man was OVEReager; this man was UNDEReager.
4 sobering truths emerge from these 2 encounters:
Christ makes RADICAL DEMANDS of those who would follow Him.
There is the UNIQUE AUTHORITY of Jesus – ONLY GOD could make such demands!
The PRIORITIES of TRUE disciples are revealed.
The DANGER of being ATTACHED to this world is also revealed.
The following miracles prove Jesus’ AUTHORITY over DISASTER, DEMONS, & DISEASE.
8:23-24 – note that these men were IN the storm because they OBEYED Jesus!
8:25 – Ps. 89:8-9 – we tend to MARVEL at the GREATNESS of God, until TROUBLE comes again, & causes us to focus ON IT instead.
8:26 – this was not a GRADUAL DIMINISHING, but a SUDDEN CESSATION, & all was peaceful.
Notice the contrast between the GREAT FAITH of the centurion & the LITTLE FAITH of the disciples.
8:27 – when God’s MAJESTIC PRESENCE is displayed, mere mortals CANNOT STAND in His presence.
Miracles OVER NATURE are RARE in the Bible. The FOCUS is on WHO CHRIST is (the Son of God), not what He CAN DO for us (calm the storms of life).
In this FINAL MIRACLE of chapter 8, Jesus demonstrates His power over the SPIRITUAL world, the NATURAL world, over DEATH, & over DEFORMITY.
8:28 – 1 John 3:8: “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”
Luke 11:20: “if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
8:29 – the demons IMMEDIATELY RECOGNIZED who Jesus was. Mark 5:6: “And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him.”
The demons HATE EVERYTHING about God – but they have NO CHOICE but to BOW before His presence, as someday “every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:10b-11)
The DEMONS RECOGNIZED:
That Jesus is the SON of GOD;
That there is a FINAL JUDGMENT, from which they will SUFFER TORMENT;
That He had AUTHORITY to DISPOSE of them as He chose.
But RECOGNITION is not ACCEPTANCE. James 2:19: “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe – and shudder!”
The CONDITION of these 2 men vividly DEMONSTRATES what SATAN DOES to people:
He ROBS them of SELF-CONTROL;
He FILLS them with FEAR;
He ROBS them of the joy of HOME & FRIENDS.
What can SOCIETY DO in RESPONSE to such need?
Society can RESTRAIN people;
It can ISOLATE people;
It can THREATEN people – but it CANNOT CHANGE people.
8:30-34 – the townspeople did not even give Jesus the RELUCTANT REVERENCE shown by the DEMONS!
They seemingly had NO INTEREST in WHO HE WAS, or WHY He had COME to their area.
They wanted NOTHING TO DO with Him, because they were AFRAID of Him, as ALL sinful humanity is when CONFRONTED with HOLY GOD.
This is the FIRST OPPOSITION to Jesus recorded in the gospels – but it is NOT the LAST!
The PROOF of Jesus’ DIVINITY only INCREASED with each miracle – but OPPOSITION & HATRED toward Him grew as well.
John 1:11: “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.”
John MacArthur: “Those who reject Jesus Christ even after witnessing His miracles were like a judge or jury who, after hearing an open and shut court case, makes a decision that is the exact opposite of what the evidence calls for.”
But SOME did believe; & “to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)
JESUS is LORD – “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to (him).” (Matt. 28:18)
Will you DOUBT His authority?
Will you DENY His authority?
Will you DISMISS His authority?
Or will you SURRENDER to His authority?
The DECISION is YOURS - & ETERNITY AWAITS your response.
All hail the power of Jesus’ name! Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all.