Matthew 8:1-17 (The King's Authority in Action) 💪
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Matthew 8:1-17 (The King's Authority in Action) 💪

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Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord,” the man said, “if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared. Then Jesus said to him, “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.” When Jesus returned to Capernaum, a Roman officer came and pleaded with him, “Lord, my young servant lies in bed, paralyzed and in terrible pain.” Jesus said, “I will come and heal him.” But the officer said, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come into my home. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed. Turning to those who were following him, he said, “I tell you the truth, I haven’t seen faith like this in all Israel! And I tell you this, that many Gentiles will come from all over the world—from east and west—and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the feast in the Kingdom of Heaven. But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Then Jesus said to the Roman officer, “Go back home. Because you believed, it has happened.” And the young servant was healed that same hour. When Jesus arrived at Peter’s house, Peter’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. But when Jesus touched her hand, the fever left her. Then she got up and prepared a meal for him. That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. He cast out the evil spirits with a simple command, and he healed all the sick. This fulfilled the word of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, who said, “He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases.”

The foundation of the Kingdom of God is an unshakable JOY that GROWS from the bottom up.

Overall Commentary: 🌎

Jesus puts His authority into action.

Joy grows as we see our KING'S AUTHORITY IN ACTION.


Verse 1-4: The Healing of the Lepor

  • Large crowds- At its height, the crowds likely were between 10-15 thousand. This would have been massive during the time of Jesus. It would have also been a cause of concern for the Romans because it could have looked like a formidable gather on the level of a mob or riot. This is one reason why the Pharisees did not like Jesus. He was drawing the wrong kind of attention.
  • Leporsy- This term is a 'catch-all' term for various types of incurable and contagious skin diseases. The most common we think of is Hansen's disease. This would have made the man "unclean" and dangerous to everyone in attendance. Just being there would have been cause for him to be killed.    
  • "If you are willing."- This would have been a sign of faith but uncertain intent. It may also mean he had gone to the priests, but they could not help him.
  • "Jesus reached out and touched him."- This would have been strictly forbidden. Touching an unclean person would have made Jesus unclean till evening. However, Jesus' touch instantly healed the man.
  • "leprosy disappeared"- Because his leprosy visibly disappeared, it shows the severity of his disease.
  • "Don't tell anyone"- Jesus often would tell people not to make a big deal about the healing they had received. There are multiple reasons for this.
  1. Jesus was not interested in being known primarily as a healer. He was interested in the message of the Kingdom of Heaven.
  2. Jesus knew the more His fame spread, the more His enemies would try to destroy Him. Jesus was protecting His timeline.
  3. The focus should always be on His ability to save and less on the healing. This does not downplay the healing. It is intended to exalt Jesus.
  • "Show yourselves to the priest"- This would have been a requirement from the book of Leviticus. If you thought you had recovered from a disease, you had to be examined by a priest. If deemed clean, you could re-enter society and return to your family. This would have been not easy because he had to travel several days from the Sea of Galilee area to Jerusalem.
  • "Public testimony"- If the man were deemed clean, it would be a verifiable testimony pointing to the ministry of Jesus. This helps us understand Jesus wasn't trying to hide healings. He wanted them in the correct order. Healings don't point to themselves. They point to Him.

Verse 5-13: The Faith of a Soldier

  • Capernaum- Jesus moved His ministry headquarters to this town, likely because it was a trade hub for the area. Peter probably moved his family to this city to be closer to Jesus.
  • Roman officer- This officer was a centurion. Centurion was a mid-level soldier with over 100 other soldiers. This means he had command but was also under control.
  • Controversial- "My young servant."- During a soldier's career, they could not marry. Therefore, some would have said this could have been the centurion's unmarried partner. However, there is no evidence for this at all. With the text and parallel text we are given, we can only infer this to be a loved 'house servant' that had been in some accident and now needed help.
  • "I will come and heal him."- Some renderings of the Greek text form Jesus' statement as a question. If so, it is fair to assume Jesus tested the soldier's faith.
  • What is all this talk about going and coming- The soldier stated that He realized Jesus was a man of authority. He did not have to go and come as a lowly servant: everything seen and unseen bows to Him.
  • "Jesus was amazed."- In the Scripture, Jesus is usually amazed at the lack of faith. Here, a gentle who did not grow up to God has more confidence than anyone around Him.
  • Jesus' prophecy- Jesus is prophecying that His Gospel was not only for the Jews. It was going to be for all people. This was always the point, but He had to remind the religious Jews of this constantly.
  • "Because you believed."- Jesus loves to partner with our faith. No, our faith does not produce a miracle. That belongs to God alone. However, God does partner with our faith to do His work.

Verse 14-17: The Healing of Many

  • Peter's house- Peter had likely moved to Capernaum to be closer to Jesus.
  • Peter's mother-in-law- Peter is one of the married disciples, and church history indicates the mother-in-law was a widow.
  • High fever- many historians and scholars believed she could have had malaria.
  • Jesus touched her hand- Again, Jesus did something that would have made Him unclean in the eyes of the Law. However, Jesus' touch instantly healed her.
  • "She got up and prepared a meal"- indicates her healing was so complete she felt like serving and helping provide for the guests.
  • "That evening"- based on parallel passages, it was likely the Sabbath. This means they had to wait till sunset to seek Jesus out again. To the Jewish people, Sabbath was a day of rest. They were not allowed to travel far from their homes.
  • "Demon possessed and healing"- both were signs of the Messiah. This is why the Gospel writers are sure to report Jesus having the ability to have authority over these areas. Every healing and every deliverance would have screamed "Messiah" to the Jewish people..  

What can we learn from this passage?

This passage is all about the authority of Jesus to heal. Before we go any further, let's ask the two obvious questions:

Question: What is healing?
Answer: Healing is when the divine reality invades natural order. Jesus has the authority to do this.

Question: Does God always heal?
Answer: Yes. However, the when, where, how, and why are left up to the King.

The most important thing we can learn from this passage is that the focus of this section is not the healings. The focus is Jesus. When we follow Jesus, miracles happen. But they occur at a time and place of His choosing. Jesus often heals in ways we would not expect. For example, all three of these healings are for people who would have been considered outcasts or "unclean" in the eyes of the audience. Jesus is not interested in what you can offer Him. He is interested in what He can do for you.  

Here are three lessons about healing we can learn about Jesus from this passage:

First, Jesus has the authority to heal the hopeless and bring full restoration.

The man with leprosy would have been a "crowd splitter." People would have instantly run away and gasped. Not only was he placing his life in danger by just being there, he was possibly placing everyone else in danger. This man was hopeless. He likely was already yelled at to go away and die alone. However, when everyone else stepped back, Jesus stepped in.

We can see the love of Jesus by stepping in and doing more than just healing his visible illness. Jesus saw something more profound than what everyone else could see. Because of His illness, this man would have been separated from his family. Even if he went home and looked well, they would not have been able to accept him again unless he had been declared clean by the priests.

Jesus immediately told him not to waste any time but get his family back again. Jesus sees more profound than the surface issues. He sees into what our souls genuinely need.

When we go through deeper issues, God's Word says...

(2 Corinthians 1:3-4) All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

Then, Jesus not only wants to heal us, but He also wants to show us off as His unique treasure. Jesus told the leper he would become a testimony. That's what we can become. We can become an example of His love and goodness. Joy grows as I become a living testimony of His powerful love.

Second, Jesus heals the broken and celebrates our growth.

There are two broken people in the following story. The first is easy to see. Something had happened to this young servant that had left him paralyzed. He is the obvious point of need. However, a second person needs help, too: the soldier.

From parallel passages in Luke, we know this was a good soldier who had helped the Jews. However, he was always on the outside looking in. He likely barely felt worthy to even be in the presence of Jesus. However, the need drove him forward. When Jesus asks if He should go to the soldier's home, He is again doing something unconventional. Jewish people considered it a sin to enter into a gentile's home. However, seeing this man's faith brought joy to the heart of Jesus. Did you know Jesus takes joy in you? Every time you take a step toward Him, it brings Him joy.

This soldier did what God's Word instructs us to do...

(Philippians 4:6-7) Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Jesus not only took joy in this soldier's faith, but He rejoiced in the future joy of all of us. We are the gentiles He spoke about in the text, and it brought Him great pleasure to think of us coming to Him.
Jesus ended this encounter, saying that this man's faith had brought Him joy and that healing was coming.
One of the reasons Jesus heals us is so we can then bring healing to others. This soldier took a step of faith, which healed his worry and brought healing to the young servant. Joy grows as I become a carrier of His powerful love.

Finally, Jesus heals the forgotten and gives us strength to serve Him.

In a parallel text, we learn more of the story about Jesus' encounter with Peter's mother-in-law.

(Mark 1:30-31) They told Jesus about her right away. So he went to her bedside, took her by the hand, and helped her sit up. Then the fever left her, and she prepared a meal for them.

It is thought Peter's mother-in-law was a widow. She lives with her family but cannot get to Jesus. She is sick; she's likely been quarantined from her family. She is quickly forgotten. What can she bring to the gathering? What can she offer Jesus? When Jesus heard about her, He went to her side and lifted her. Even if everyone else has forgotten you, Jesus will come to find you. There is not one too far gone or too "small" in the eyes of the world to miss His love.

The lady was so impacted and transformed by His touch she immediately got up and began to serve. This speaks to the completeness of her healing and what we do when the presence of God blesses us. We get to work.

Have you ever wondered why we experience the presence of God? Why does God bless us with His goodness? It is so we can get to work. He empowers us to take steps of faith, take steps of growth, and walk with others. Joy grows as I become a DIFFERENCE MAKER through His powerful love.

Questions/Journal Prompts for reflection:

  1. Have you ever witnessed healing?
  2. Have you ever thought about why we experience the presence of God?
  3. How does it help you to realize Jesus celebrates every step we take?
  4. What next step do you need to make?

Resources For Further Study