Today: [Matthew 8] How Jesus Performed Miracles: In chapter 8 of Matthew we have several accounts of Jesus performing miracles. How He goes about cleansing a leper, or healing a distant sick person is VERY DIFFERENT than how these things are attempted today. Perhaps if we pay attention to how Jesus successfully healed we will gain an understanding as to why so few are healed today.
[Mat 8:1-34 KJV] 1 When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. 2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 3 And Jesus put forth [his] hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4 And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. 5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, 6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. 7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. 8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. 9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this [man], Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth [it]. 10 When Jesus heard [it], he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, [so] be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour. 14 And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever. 15 And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them. 16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with [his] word, and healed all that were sick: 17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare [our] sicknesses.
After the Sermon on the Mount Jesus comes down from and great crowds begin to follow Him. This supports the thought reflected in Matthew 5:1 that this first discourse was not given to a large crowd, but only to a small group of Jesus’ disciples. In any case through chapter 8 we see Jesus healing and performing several miracles of deliverances. The first is a leper who approaches Jesus saying “Lord if you will, you can make me clean…” Jesus responds in the affirmative and the man’s leprosy was cleansed. What can we learn from this?
In many, if not the majority of Jesus’ miracles, He does not pause to pray before He performs the miracle. There are no scriptures in the New Testament where Jesus or the disciples were known to pray before performing a healing, or to instruct others to pray in the act of performing a miracle.
Jesus is asked a question by the leper and simply gives a two-word response that results in the man’s deliverance from a debilitating, disfiguring disease. Notice also that the miracle is channels through Jesus’ will, not His emotions or His mind. He isn’t working Himself up into an emotional state, or for that matter calming Himself before acting. He isn’t conjuring some metaphysical mental attitude, or positive mental state. He simply, and casually responds with “I will” and the man is immediately set free. The point is that the manner in which Jesus performed miracles and healings, and His disciples likewise, is very different than the way those who believe in such things attempt to do them today. In view of the fact that modern renewalist believers experience far fewer positive outcomes in prayers for healing and deliverance than Jesus and the disciples reportedly did tells us we could learn from them if we would take the time or care to actually learn from these recorded encounters, especially in the gospels.
In verse 4 Jesus tells the man strictly not to tell anyone what had happened to him. Why would Jesus not want this miracle to be publicized? This is another departure in the methodology of Jesus regarding the miraculous that is very different than the way things are done today. Isa. 42:1-2 says that the coming Messiah would not be one to draw attention to Himself. With the advent of the internet what had once become a 24-hour news cycle has now become a two second timeframe for anything you have to say to capture someone’s attention. Because of this, sensationalism, and misleading headlines are the rule of the day, even among the most respected news sources in our culture. Unfortunately, this has bled over into Christian publications and sources as well, whose headline and subtitles read more like the National Enquirer than any thoughtful, spiritually enriching source of information. Jesus never did things this way, in fact quite the opposite.
Next, we see Jesus interacting with a centurion. This is the second of two very controversial things Jesus has done this far. First, in the Sermon on the Mount He taught His followers to think of God and relate to God as their Father. This was far more controversial than we immediately recognized. Let us remember that the primary charge for which Jesus was crucified was for claiming that God was His Father. To make such a statement, and to teach others likewise was an absolute obscenity to the religious mentalities of the day. Secondly here in verses 6-13, to find Jesus interacting with a Gentile, and a Roman at that was disgusting to a Jewish mind. Jesus anticipates this and declares in verse 11 that many Gentiles will sit in the kingdom of Heaven with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob while many Jews (children of the kingdom) would be cast into outer darkness. The term outer darkness is not just a euphemism for hell. Outer darkness was a descriptor for the outer court of the temple at night when all natural light faded and the only illumination was from the lampstand in the inner court, or the Shekinah glory in the Holy of Holies. This gives new insight into the remark that Jesus made “work while it is day, for the night comes when no man can work…” It has to do with discerning the times and the seasons of God and cooperating, moving forward with Him into deeper intimacy and cooperation with His Spirit over time, in your life’s circumstances.
The centurion’s faith was remarkable to Jesus. To the centurion, immerse in the martial culture of the Roman army, Jesus was a man moving in authority. This reflects as well what Jesus did with the leper earlier in the chapter. Jesus healed the man with an act of His will, saying “I will” and the man was cleansed. The centurion understood that his own authority over 100 men was an exercise of his will. It didn’t matter what he thought (mental realm) or how he felt (emotional state) when it came time to give his men a command. Neither did he pause to ask the command structure above him (praying) before he acted in command or exercise of his authority. He simply understood the responsibility given him and exercised it, expecting those under him to respond. We have to understand what the authority of the believer is. God has given you authority. Jesus said greater works shall you do because He went to the Father. I believe the temptation to pray, to work one’s self up mentally or emotionally in the act of praying for the sick is an indicator of unbelief and insecurity. We simply need to do as Jesus did with the leper (“I will”) and in the case of the centurion, to simply send the word with an emphasis on the person’s willingness to believe (as you have believed, so be it done unto you).
Notice in verse 16 that after cleansing the leper and after healing the centurion’s servant, that many sick and oppressed people come to Jesus while He was staying at Peter’s house. Verse 16 says that He healed them ALL. Today we are taught that when healing doesn’t happen it is because God had some deeper plan that dictated that you not receive the healing you have asked for in deference to some ineffable reason God has for keeping you sick (to glorify him, to witness to your doctors and nurses, to spare you from some future calamity, etc.,). If there is truth in that allegedly wise viewpoint, then why do we not see Jesus refusing to heal certain ones, even though He could? Why doesn’t He lay hands on someone, then stop because He senses this person needs to remain sick for the greater will of God? The fact that He NEVER does this is an indictment of the fallacious doctrines taught along this line that are simply a rationalistic justification for why people often don’t get healed even though they feel they are exercising faith to receive.
18 Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side. 19 And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. 20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air [have] nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay [his] head. 21 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. 22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead. 23 And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. 24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. 25 And his disciples came to [him], and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. 26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. 27 But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him! 28 And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. 29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? 30 And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. 31 So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. 32 And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters. 33 And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. 34 And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought [him] that he would depart out of their coasts.
In verse 18, Jesus again acts in a counter intuitive way, seeking to avoid the crowds that have gathered around Him. He makes not of the multitude and commands His disciples to get on depart to the other side of the sea. That isn’t how ministry gets done today. Doesn’t Jesus understand that we need to capitalize on the heat of the moment and the multitude at hand? As Jesus is preparing to depart a scribe of the Pharisees comes to Him declaring the He will follow Him everywhere. Jesus looks at Him and points out that He doesn’t have anywhere to lay His head. Following Jesus often requires us to give up creature comforts and more importantly our own security. The scribe apparently wanted nothing of that, and we do not hear further from Him. Another disciple of Jesus growing number of followers asks Jesus to give Him time to deal with a death in the family. Jesus bluntly states that that the man should simply follow Him and let the dead bury the dead. Can you imagine? I thought the church was built on the foundation of the family? How could Jesus be so callous to the death of a loved one? This tells us that the values espoused by our religious culture are far different from the personal ethics that Jesus apparently lived by.
After entering into a ship and seeking to go to the other side a great storm comes up to threaten the apostolic band of intrepid disciples. They are in fear of their lives, but Jesus is asleep in the bow of the boat. Why was Jesus sleeping? Because He was tired. When He healed, there was virtue or strength that went out of Him and He needed rest and did so deeply that even a boisterous storm did not waken Him. The disciples in fear of their lives shake Jesus to wakefulness crying out to Him to save them from the peril at hand. Jesus awakes and is more concerned about the storm of unbelief IN the disciples than the storm of wind around them. He obviously expected them to have a very different attitude about what they were facing. Have you ever had this response about a storm in your life?
Rather than reactively crying out to God as though He isn’t paying attention, perhaps we should calm ourselves and have the faith that Jesus found singularly lacking in those that were in the ship with Him at the time.
In verse 28 Jesus comes to the country of the Gergesenes and is confronted by two demon possessed individuals. They were so fierce and violent that travelers in the area made a point to avoid them at all costs. In verse 29 these possessed individuals declare that they want nothing to do with Jesus and in fact suggest that it wasn’t time for Jesus to exercise authority over them. Realizing that Jesus wasn’t going to retreat, they ask to be allowed to possess a herd of pigs who consequently throw themselves into the sea rather than be possessed by the demons who had inhabited these two men.
What an amazing thing that the men had lived with these demons in them for some time, but the pigs became suicidal, preferring to die immediately than live one moment more bound by a demonic presence.
After their deliverance, the herdsmen who kept the pigs went into the city to tell their tale. Rather than honoring Jesus, the entire population with one voice goes out to meet Jesus, desiring that He would depart and not come anywhere near them. What a judgment against this town! There are communities like this all around us. Our schools, our public venues, our courts and whole communities make it abundantly clear by their laws, and their declarations that God is not welcome.
Perhaps it is because as in the case of the Gergesenes they had a deeper affinity with the pig herders, or the men in a state of demon possession than they did in the living Christ come to bring them light in darkness? When our communities show themselves to be so averse to faith it is more than unbelief. It is an indicator of a malevolent demonic presence actually in control not just of a few individuals, but an entire city and people group. Upon hearing this, Jesus without a word simply turns and board His ship again and departs. What a lost opportunity!
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