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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Jesus Goes About Healing Everyone


Jesus Goes About Healing Everyone

As told in Matthew 8




Jesus walked around the Sea of Galilee with his disciples preaching and healing as He went.  He became instantly famous and thousands of people left their homes and followed after Him!  Word spread all over Israel, Syria and other countries, that Jesus was healing every sick person who came to Him and the crowds went wild!  This had never happened before!  No man could do the things Jesus was doing!  He must be the Messiah that the prophets of old had promised God would send!  Everyone wanted to see Him for themselves!  


After Jesus finished preaching the sermon on the mount a leper came out of the crowd and fell down and worshipped Him saying: “Lord, if You are willing You can make me clean.”  (Matthew 8:2)  Then Jesus put out His hand and touched the leper saying, “I am willing: be cleansed.”  And immediately his leprosy was cleansed!”  (Matthew 8:3) 


Next a Roman centurion came to Jesus.  (A centurion is a soldier who is in charge of 100 soldiers.)   This centurion told Jesus: “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.”  So Jesus said: “I will go to your home and heal him.”(Matthew 8:5-14)     


But the centurion told Jesus that he was not worthy for Jesus to come under his roof and he didn’t want Jesus to go to all of that trouble.  It was probably a days’ journey or more back to his house.  The centurion believed that Jesus had the authority over disease and that all He needed to do was to say the word and his servant’s disease would be healed.  He told Jesus that as a centurion he had authority over 100 soldiers and could call out the order and his men would do whatever he ordered.  And he believed that Jesus had this kind of authority over disease and He could speak and the disease would be gone. So this Roman soldier asked Jesus to speak the word.  He trusted that Jesus could heal his servant (from a long way off) by just saying the word.


The centurion got that one right.  As Son of God Jesus does have power and authority over disease!  Jesus was thrilled that the Roman centurion, a non-Jew, had so much faith in Him!  At that time Israel was the only nation that had the Word of God.  Also they had the rich tradition of a long line of prophets (sent from God) who taught the Jewish people Gods’ ways


. So faith in God was expected of the Jewish people since God had been protecting and leading them from the days of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  2,000 years earlier. Every Jewish child had been taught that God would send the Messiah who would save them.  Now their Messiah had come and they didn’t recognize Him. 


All of the other countries were thought to be “heathen” by the Jewish people and indeed most of Israel’s neighbors worshipped and sacrificed their children before idols.   

But here was a Roman soldier from a heathen land who did not have the advantage of being brought up in a God fearing nation.  And yet this Roman soldier had more faith in Jesus than many of the Jews did!  Jesus announces that his Messianic kingdom would be enjoyed by many who are not Jews.  (The Jews did not like to hear Jesus say that!  They believed that the “unclean” Gentiles could never get into the kingdom of heaven!)  


Jesus smiled at the Roman centurion as the crowds were watching and said:  “I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!  Many will come from the east and west (non-Jews) and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness…” (Matthew 8:10b-12a)


 The figure of a banquet is often used to describe the Kingdom of heaven.  (Isa.25:6: Luke 14:15)  When Jesus said: “The sons of the kingdom will be cast into outer darkness,” I think He was referring to the unbelieving Jews.  I think that the Jewish people who rejected Jesus are being told here that without faith, just being Jewish is not enough.  I believe this “outer darkness” Jesus spoke about might mean the darkness outside the lighted banquet hall.  They miss out on the banquet, the fellowship and all that was meant for them to enjoy because of their rejection of the One who made it all possible.   


Jesus turned to the Roman centurion and said: “Go your way: and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.”  (Matthew 8:13)  When the centurion got to his house he found that his servant had been healed at the same time that Jesus had spoken the word. 


After that Jesus moved on and healed Peter’s mother-in-law.  The lame and the blind and the desperately sick were all brought to Jesus and He healed them all.  Scripture says:  “They brought to Him many who were demon-possessed and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick.”  (Matthew 8:16)   Isaiah prophesied 700 years earlier that the Messiah would be a healer.  He said: “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.”  (Isaiah 53:4-5)  


While Jesus is walking with the crowd He comes across two demon-possessed men coming out of a graveyard.  These men are fierce and possibly dangerous and none of the crowd can pass by safely.  Jesus has compassion on the two men and He orders the demons to come out of the men and go into a nearby herd of pigs.  And when the demons are sent into the pigs it caused the pigs to run into the nearby sea (Galilee) and drown. 


The people who took care of the pigs run back to the nearby town to report what has happened.  And soon everyone from town rushes out to find Jesus.  Amazingly the folks from town beg Jesus to leave!  Jesus has healed two men from this town!  These men are probably fathers, husbands, and sons of families in this town.  Aren’t those families overjoyed to receive their loved ones back into their lives?  Wouldn’t the townspeople be grateful to Jesus for saving these two?  But then there was the issue of the herd of pigs that had run into the sea and drowned.  The owner of the pigs was expecting to make money off of those pigs and now that won’t happen.  Was an economic profit more important to these townspeople than the welfare of two of their citizens?  Is that why they all rejected Jesus and begged Him to leave?  Do others reject Jesus for economic reasons too?  


While Jesus was in the crowd healing and teaching, a scribe came to Him and asked if he could be one of Jesus’ followers.  And Jesus answered him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”  (Matthew 8:20)


What is Jesus saying here?  I think Jesus is reminding this man that he needs to know what he is getting into before he follows Jesus.  He needs to count the cost.  That the demands of following Jesus are costly!  Jesus is telling this man that He often does not have any place to sleep at night- a place to lay his head.  And his followers may have to suffer deprivation too.  To follow Jesus is to take up your cross and deny yourself.  Give up control.  You cannot run the race set before you if you are weighed down with lots of stuff.  Jesus takes his followers outside their comfort zone.


 And then one of Jesus’ followers tells Jesus that before he can follow him he must first go and bury his father.  And Jesus replies: “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”  (Matthew 8:22)  Again Jesus is saying that following Him is not easy!  Jesus expects his followers to love Him first and give Him first place.  Discipleship means forsaking all selfish personal ambition.  Followers must repent of their sin– turn around and change directions.  To follow Jesus is to leave your ego behind.  To leave everything behind. 


Jesus gets into a boat with his disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee.  But soon dark clouds fill the sky and a powerful storm blows in over the troubled waters.  High waves begin crashing into the boat and the terrified disciples wake up a sleeping Jesus and say: “Lord, save us!  We are perishing!”  (Matt.8:25)  Jesus tells his disciples not to be afraid and He stands up and rebukes the winds and the sea.  And immediately the storm is gone and there is a great calm!  It’s a miracle!  Word spreads and everybody hears about this and marvels.  “Who can this Jesus be?” they exclaim.  “Even the winds and the sea obey Him!”  (Matthew 8:27)  Yes, Jesus is the Son of God and He has authority over nature.   


We have just read through the eighth chapter of Matthew and we read here about how Jesus went about healing sick people.  But eventually those people He healed became sick again and died.  In this world because of sin we all die!  “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (Romans 6:23)                    


Jesus not only has authority to heal physical diseases but He has the authority to forgive sins (1 John 1:9) (Matt. 9:6) and the power to take them away from us, if we want Him to.  He not only walked with the crowds in Galilee two thousand years ago, but He walks with us today.  He can take care of us in this world and in the next!  That is because He is the Son of God.     






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