Thursday, April 24, 2008

Matthew, Chapter 8

Yesterday we saw Jesus wrap up his famous Sermon on the Mount. Today, in Matthew 8, we see Him begin a series of miracles during His ministry. Chapter 8 of Matthew features four miracles as well as several acts of faith that stand out. We see Jesus fulfilling more prophesy by healing the sick and those with leprosy. While this was not Jesus' primary goal in coming to earth, it was still work that He viewed as important. In healing the leper He also showed that He was more important than the law. Jewish law stated that one couldn't touch someone or something that was ceremonially unclean. The leper fell into this category, yet Jesus saw it was more important to help Him then obey the law.

8The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."

 10When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. 11I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." – Matthew 8:8-11

There are very few times in Scripture where Jesus was amazed or surprised, but this is one of them. That alone makes this passage noteworthy. It is very difficult to surprise and impress someone who is already omnipotent and omniscient, so the Centurion did not accomplish a small task here. What surprised Jesus the most was that the Centurion, a gentile, seemed to be more spiritually aware than most Jews. Here was someone who had very limited knowledge of the law, but he already had faith and understood the power of Christ. This is an incredible lesson, and further shows that Christ came ot serve all mankind, especially since the Centurion was a symbol of the Roman oppression of Israel.

30Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31The demons begged Jesus, "If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs."

 32He said to them, "Go!" So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. 33Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region. – Matthew 8:30-34

I wanted to focus on this passage because it is almost diametrically opposite of the situation with the Centurion. In the previous verses, the Centurion had the faith to simply ask Jesus to heal his servant. In these verses, Jesus performed a miracle without being asked, yet He was asked to leave the region because the people could not see past the loss of their pigs. This also relates to verses 18 through 22 of this chapter in the cost of following Christ. In both cases, Christ was asking people to give something up for Him, but they were unable to do so. This shows the unfortunate side of human nature in how we hang on to things, material or otherwise, instead of following God's plan. In both cases Jesus was asking people to be different, but they could not accept that for His sake. We face a similar situation in our lives, and this illustration relates to people who continue to reject Him even in the face of overwhelming evidence.


  1. Do you have the faith of the Centurion?
  2. How would you react to a miracle like Jesus performed with the demon-possessed men?
  3. Why would the people ask Jesus to leave?

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