Matthew 8:1-13: April 27—Hope found
Apr 20, 2014

The order of the miracles Jesus performed presents our Lord’s plan for a stable society as well as the evidence for who He is. In His first miracle, He met the needs for the success of a marriage ceremony in Cana of Galilee (John 2:11). Two relevant applications stand out. First, He chose carefully the circumstances of His first miracle involving a home. Sin began with Adam and Eve, the first home. Jesus signaled to us the imperative of the family in a stable society. It is no mere happenstance that the biblical standard for the home is being assailed roundly in American society to define radically  what is meant by marriage. The second truth shown in His miracles reveal His control of both natural and spiritual orders.

Matthew’s account begins with tentative allusions to Christ’s deity (vv. 1-2). A leper came to Jesus pleading to be made clean. In the process, Matthew, the writer, says the leper “worshipped Jesus, calling Him Lord.” We ought not read too much into these two words because they are not used exclusively in a religious sense in the New Testament. However, the Greek word for worship is commonly used to describe a religious event. The word for lord certainly has many references to Deity, as when we speak of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are safe, therefore, in tracing the gradual understanding by the apostles about the divine nature of Jesus. Peter gained the approval of Jesus when Peter called Him “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). Thomas, in the upper room following Christ’s resurrection, saw the nail prints in the Lord’s hands and humbly confessed, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). That confession settled the issue of His Deity, once and for all.

It remained for the apostle John to associate Jesus with His Old Testament fore-shadowings. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus, after His resurrection, appeared to two unnamed believers. He began with “Moses and all the prophets, [and] he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). John cited an example for us when the populace refused to believe in Jesus following His triumphal entry into Jerusalem (John 12:13, 37). He cited a prophecy from Isaiah 6:10 and applied it to the Jews of John’s day. He adds the profound application that when Isaiah saw God’s glory (Isa. 6:1), the prophet saw Jesus (v. 41). The Jesus of the New Testament is described in the Old Testament.

Returning now to the healing of the leper, Jesus touched him, healed him, and sent him to the priest for his ritual cleansing (vv. 3-4). The leper did not ask for healing, perhaps because Jews commonly thought of leprosy as a “stroke of God,” inflicted as retribution for a vile sin. Jesus honored the request for healing and cleansing. The command to show himself to the priest gave Him an independent testimony of His healing ability. The act also affirmed His goal to fulfill the law, not to break it. The post-resurrection believers faced the daunting task of evangelization without offending the Jewish religious structure.

The healing of the centurion’s daughter foreshadowed the impact of belief in Christ on the gentiles (v. 10). The centurion set an example of faith by asking Jesus to say the healing word, without going to the bedside of the servant. The servant was healed at that time (v. 13).

Jesus used the centurion’s faith as ushering in an enlarged concept of kingdom citizens (vv. 11-12). It must have shocked those listening to Jesus as He prophesied a major upheaval in what they thought to be unassailable, their native-born right as Jews to be heirs of the kingdom yet to materialize. Foreigners from the east and west would “sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob” (v. 11) while the children of the kingdom “shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (v. 12). Jesus was issuing a warning against spiritual complacency, assuming one is saved based on heritage and religious background.

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