Matthew 8-9
(Demonstrations of Power and Healing)
October 4th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

Then suddenly a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.

- Matthew 9:20-22 (NSRV)

Summary of Chapters

In these two chapters Matthew reports how Jesus healed people as he travels from town to town. It is clear from these two chapters alone that nothing is beyond his power. Chapter 8 records some of these miracles. For example, Matthew described how Jesus healed a man with leprosy by touching him and healed a Centurion’s servant from long distance.

    When he entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.”

    He said to him, “I will come and cure him.”

    The centurion said in reply,“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.

    For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

    When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel* have I found such faith.

    I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven, but the children of the kingdom will be driven out into the outer darkness, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” And Jesus said to the centurion, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And at that very hour [his] servant was healed.

    - Matthew 8:6-13 (NAB)

Later in this same chapter Jesus also calmed a raging storm from the stern of a boat, and exorcised demons from a group of men. Matthew notes that this service fulfilled Isaiah's Suffering Servant prophecy that we read a number of weeks ago (see The Suffering Servant," Isaiah 49-53).

Miracles of healing and salvation continue in chapter 9, as Matthew describes Jesus’ restoration of a paralyzed man and his call for discipleship to a despised tax collector named Matthew (the author of this book).

We read that just the touch of his cloak brings healing and then Jesus demonstrates that his power is greater than death as he brings a little girl back to life. After this period of ministry and healing he explains to his disciples that there are many needy people but few to serve them: “ 'The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few’ (Matt 9:37 - NIV).”

Reflection and Application

It's interesting to note that the demons observed in these chapters immediately recognized Jesus as the Son of God, as did a Gentile commander from the occupying Roman army. However, many Jewish people, including some of the religious experts were not always ready to accept this truth, as seen in the passages below:

    Recognized by demons
    Seeing Jesus, the madmen screamed out, “What business do you have giving us a hard time? You’re the Son of God! You weren’t supposed to show up here yet!”

    -Matthew 8:29 (MSG)

    Not recognized by the religious scholars
    Jesus, impressed by their bold belief, said to the paraplegic, “Cheer up, son. I forgive your sins.” Some religion scholars whispered, “Why, that’s blasphemy!”

    - Matthew 9:3 (MSG)

How can this be? How can we be so blind that we can't see what is so clear for the evil ones and outsiders?

If we do believe that Jesus is the Son of God then we want to turn to our heavenly Father in prayer, as Jesus instructed. But when we do turn to God in prayer we might wonder sometimes if he can hear us, and if so whether he cares. And if he does care, whether or not he can or will actually help our specific situation. The answers to these questions can be found in this group of chapters.

Our God has the power to heal a man from long-distance - with a type of touch that we cannot see and with an ability to see beyond the current surroundings in a way that is incomprehensible by humans. Likewise, he has the power to hear us in ways that we cannot fully understand. His care for us is demonstrated by the observation from Matthew that he healed everyone, including the servant of one of the officers of the occupying army. In a sermon on the story of the centurion the Rev. John Seiders noted that this officer in the Roman army respected Jesus' authority and was prepared to submit to it for the purposes of healing his servant. In this sermon, the Rev. Seiders asks the congregation if they too are ready to submit to Jesus. In today's reading, Jesus also called to his ministry a despicable tax collector, a man who conspires with the occupiers. If he cared for these two outsiders, then he certainly must care for the rest of us.

Can he help us? If he can bring people back to life, as he does in chapter 9 and in other places, then it seems likely that he can do anything he wants. The question is whether or not it’s in his will. Part of our prayer must be that we accept his will, even if it means our prayers are not answered in the way we like. If we are in the middle of a storm in our life, we should remember that he is there with us, just as he was in the boat with the Disciples when a storm rolled into the Sea of Galilee.

Meanwhile, he calls us to help him address the prayers of others. The imbalance of potential harvest versus available workers for God continues today. We don’t need to enter a full-time ministry, but can lend a hand for the harvest with the people we encounter in our daily lives or through service projects.

Note that Jesus upheld the teachings of the Hebrew Scripture when he told the healed lepers to present themselves to a priest. This instruction was consistent with the rules described in Leviticus 14:1-32. Actions such as these helped to underscore Jesus' explanation that he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. But not everyone was happy with this prospect, so we observe in chapter 9 the seedlings of opposition to Jesus. We will see the flowering of this conspiracy in the chapters ahead.

Click the play button below to hear a complete audio version of Seider's sermon on Jesus and the centurion:

"When a Soldier Needs Compassion,"Matthew 8:5-13
Sermon by Rev. John Seiders, July 5th, 2015, Noroton Presbyterian Church, Darien, CT

"All Things are Possible," by Hillsong:

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What was one of your most recent journeys where you went from town to town for business or pleasure?
    2. What experiences have you had or heard about that involved a miracle of healing or restoration?
    3. What can you do today to help with God's harvest?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father, we are not worthy to receive you. Just say the word and we will be healed.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Military Commanders

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Matthew 10-11 (Getting the Right People on the Bus)

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