Chapter 8 begins the third section of the book.
In the first section Chs. 1-4 to verse 11, the King is introduced. His Genealogy - Birth and early Life are described.
The second section reveals the principles and laws with which He would govern the Kingdom - The Sermon on the Mount. Chs. 5-7.
The third section Ch. 8-12 reveal the power of the King to implement those laws and also tell us of the tragic rejection of the King.
The Gospel of Matthew is composed of five groups of “sayings,” or bodies of truth. Each group is concluded by similar words to those that close the Sermon on the Mount. “When Jesus had ended these sayings.” Ch 7:28. In His Sermon we have Christ as the TEACHER instructing His disciples.
The next time these words occur is in Ch. 11:1. In the body of truth before this Christ is revealed as MASTER instructing His servants.
The third mention Ch. 13:53 closes the group of parables of the Kingdom where Christ reveals Himself as the KING informing His subjects.
The fourth mention Ch. 19:1 concludes the discourse on the Church (16-18) and shows Christ as the HEAD addressing His members.
The last mention Ch. 26:1 follows our Lords discourse on the end times and sets forth Christ as JUDGE entering into account with His creatures.
An understanding of the break-up of the Book will help us to see more clearly the truths Jesus is teaching.
In the section now before us we see the power of the King and also the MASTER instructing His servants.
Isaiah wrote 800 years before Christ was born, that when the Messiah came He would
Open the eyes of the blind.
Unstop the ears of the deaf.
Cause the lame man to leap like a hart.
And make the tongue of the dumb to sing. Isa 35:5-6.
Jesus fulfilled all these prophecies. There is absolutely no excuse for Israel not identifying Him.
Chapter 8 is a series of miracles which show Christ’s absolute authority over disease – demons - and the elements.
The first miracle here is the cleansing of a leper. Verses 2-4. This leper - no doubt a Jew - came and knelt before the Lord and asked Him to heal him. Lepers were untouchables. They were a great danger to society. The disease made the person ceremonially unclean. They could not attend a place of worship.
Jesus touched this man V3 and said “be thou clean” and the leprosy vanished.
In verse 4 Jesus asked the leper to tell no man. There are six other instances of this. There were at least two reasons for this
(1) He must go to the priest as the law directed.
(2) The people were looking for a Deliverance from the Roman yoke and would have made Jesus King, because of His supernatural powers.
The nation was not ready for this - they were still unrepentant - and Jesus must first go to the Cross.
Under the law of Moses the priest also served as a physician. When a leper was cured, he had to appear before the priest to be pronounced clean. Then he had to bring an offering. Lev 14:4-6.
It was rarely that a leper was ever cured. This priest should have been alerted, causing him to investigate further the possibility of the long promised Messiah being in their midst. None are so blind as they that will not see.
The lessons of the miracle are twofold.
(1) Jesus was showing that He had power to heal the nation of its leprosy.
(2) Leprosy is a type of sin - it is loathsome – destructive - easily transmitted - and was, humanly speaking, incurable. Only Christ can take away sin.
The Lord has just shown His power over leprosy and now shows His power over paralysis. verses 5-13. This Roman Army officer was a Gentile - no doubt a believer - in contrast to the unreceptiveness of the Jews, this man displayed faith that caused the Lord to marvel. Verse 10. He acknowledged Jesus as “Lord” and had faith to believe that He had the power to heal his servant.
When the Lord suggested that He would visit the sick young man, the centurion said, "That is not necessary...my home is not worthy of your presence...just speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. Note verse 9.
Jesus marveled because he had not found so great faith, even in Israel, verse 10. There is only one other occasion that Jesus is said to have marveled. He marveled at the unbelief of the Jews. Mark 6:6.
This demonstration of faith led Him to point out, that in His coming kingdom Gentiles would come from all over the world and enjoy fellowship with the patriarchs. While the “sons of the kingdom” - Jews by birth - would be thrown into outer darkness where they will weep and gnash their teeth. Verses 11 and 12.
The awful truth of these verses is that many children privileged to be born and raised in Christian families will perish in hell because they reject Christ. While jungle savages and those brought up in heathen lands will enjoy the glories of heaven because they believed the Gospel message.
The climax of the story is contained in verse 13. The servant boy was healed. He was healed at the same time that Jesus spoke the word.
Verses 14-15 demonstrate the Lord’s power over fever. Peter’s mother-in-law was sick of a fever. As soon as He touched her hand, the fever left her immediately.
Usually fever leaves a person very weak for some time. But this woman rose up and served Him, this was an expression of her gratitude. We too should imitate her. Since He has done so much for us we should show our appreciation with renewed dedication and consecration.
Verse16 In the evening of the same day - the Sabbath, see Mark 1:21-34, they brought the sick and demon possessed to Him. He drove out the demons and healed the sick that the prophecy of Isaiah might be fulfilled (53:4). Verse 17. “He took our infirmities and bore our sins.”
This verse is often used by faith healers to show that healing is in the atonement, and therefore physical healing is something the believers can claim.
There is no thought of the cross-work of Christ in this passage. The text refers to the Saviors earthly healing ministry.
Golbalcin has an interesting view on these four miracles
(1) The healing of the Jewish leper is Christ in His first advent ministering to His people Israel.
(2) The healing of the centurion servant represents the Gentile dispensation, with Jesus absent.
(3) The healing of Peter’s mother-in-law depicts Christ’s second advent, where He will enter into the house and restore relations with Israel and heal the sick daughter of Zion.
(4) Healing of demon possessed and sick speaks of the millennium when all the sick and demon possessed will be healed.