We had a very nice time reading through Matthew Chapter Eight last night. We began by reading from Leviticus 13 in order to understand the background of Matthew 8:1-4. We noted that God gave the priests the job of diagnosing communicable diseases in order to quarantine those who were contagious, and that God gave them detailed descriptions of what to look for. He directed those who had been quarantined to go back to the priest when they thought they were better, and the priest could declare them “clean” if they had healed according to the criteria God had given the priests. We were also impressed by the leper’s faith. The Bible says that he came and worshiped Jesus, making a declaration of faith. “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
Next we read Matthew 8:5-13. A Roman centurion came to Jesus telling him that his servant was paralyzed and in dreadful pain. It was interesting to us that the centurion did not send one of his men or a servant to Jesus, but he came himself, especially in light of Matthew 8:9. This Roman told Jesus that he understood that Jesus was the Commander of everything, and that he knew that all Jesus had to do was “speak a word, and my servant will be healed.” (verse 8) Although Matthew tells us that “He marveled,” Jesus was not shocked by this man’s faith. Jesus pointed out his unique strength of faith. He let everyone there know that this Roman’s faith was greater than the faith of His own people, the Jews. He also told His listeners that faith like this centurions is necessary to enter the kingdom of heaven, regardless of nationality.
In Matthew 8:14-17, Jesus healed Peter’s mother in law, and then he healed many more people. He also cast out demons from possessed people. Matthew again brings to light the fact that Jesus was fulfilling a prophecy given by Isaiah by quoting Isaiah 53:4. Matthew is letting us know that Isaiah was speaking figuratively about Jesus healing our sin-sick souls, but that this was also a literal prophecy about Jesus healing actual sick people. He took their sickness, but He also forgave them for their sins, healing their souls.
We moved on to Matthew 8:18-22, noting that Jesus was filtering His followers by letting them know the way is hard. We brought up how this might have similarity to how God gave Gideon some filters to scale down his army. (Judges 7:1-7)
Next we watched as the disciples learned that Jesus could do more than heal people and cast out demons–He controls the weather! Matthew 8:23-27 is the exciting account of a storm at sea that Jesus “rebuked.” Immediately the sea was calm. WOW!
Matthew 8:28-34 gives the account of Jesus coming to the Gentile area of Decapolis, specifically “the country of the Gergasenes.” The two possessed men did not ask for Jesus’ help, but the demons were afraid when they saw Him coming. Jesus helped the men, and the demons possessed a herd of pigs who immediately ran themselves into the sea and drowned. When the town heard about this, they asked Jesus to leave. This may be the saddest verse in the Bible. However, the account in Mark 5:1-20 gives us another detail about this story, a sort of “happy ending.” 🙂
Mark 5:18-20 NKJV – 18 And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him. 19 However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.” 20 And he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marveled.
Praise the Lord for His love for us, and His desire to see everyone healed of their sin sickness. We ended our Bible study with a time of prayer. It is so nice to have fellowship together!