Chapter 8 starts a new section of Matthew – the sermon on the mount is finished and it’s now working up to the calling, commissioning and sending out of the disciples in ch 10. Here we are looking at three healings. Jesus has authority not just to preach but to heal too.
v1-4 a Jew with leprosy
v5-13 a Gentile Centurion’s servant
v14-17 Peter’s mother in law
1) Leprosy – a living death in those days. Cut off from civilization and living alone. It was a disease that gradually spread, cutting off sensation. A horrible disease and picture of our spiritual condition without Christ. Sin separates us and spreads in effect and is fatal. Other diseases are healed, leprosy was cleansed. Matthew’s first recorded miracle is dramatic – cleansing a leper. Jesus touching someone other shunned. Then Jesus sent him to the priest for the miracle to be verified and to offer the gift Moses commanded as a testimony to them – why? To show someone greater than the Law had come who could set people free and cleanse them!
2) The gospel was first for the Jew and then for the Gentiles – so next up is the healing of a Roman centurion’s servant. He had simple profound faith that Jesus could heal. In Jesus’ lifetime there wasn’t much faith for healing among Jews. As the Gospel was written and Jews were further hardening to the Gospel there was even less. This narrative would have been of great encouragement to Gentile believers who had trusted Jesus.
The banquet in heaven will be made up of many nations, not just the Jews! Praise God – we will see people from every tribe and tongue in heaven.
3) Peter’s mother in law – at the end of a busy day they get to Peter’s house and find the mother in law with a fever. Jesus immediately heals her – pray for your nearest and dearest. That sparks an outbreak of healing. That often happens – a healing then raises expectation for more and more happen.
There’s a difference here between deliverance and healing.
The conclusion Matthew comes to is that Jesus is fulfilling Isa 53:4. There’s no hint of the cross at this point just that Jesus took up our infirmities on himself and carried our diseases.
Jesus has come down from the mountain of revelation and is in the valley of shadow – where demonic forces and sickness hold sway. He breaks in and pushes them back. Soon in Matthew he will commission his followers and then us to do the same.
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons in Jesus name. Let’s do it!