Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Matthew 8 - Jesus' Authority and the Cost of Discipleship

LINK: Matthew 8


Matthew 8 is not chronological. Notice how the numbers from the 250 Events in the Life of Christ go back and forth!

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38. Jesus heals a man with leprosy: Matthew 8:1-4, Mark 1:40-45, Luke 5:12-16

Jesus demonstrated His power over disease, demonic forces, and men. He healed the man with leprosy. It is interesting to note that there was no record of any Israelite being healed from leprosy other than Miriam (Numbers 12:10-15). Jesus instructed the man to go to the priest as a testimony. The priests were men of influence, and it was important for the man to go to a priest first (even though the Mark account records that he did not do so) so that he could be examined and the miracle eventually be known via influential channels.

68. A Roman officer demonstrates faith: Matthew 8:5-13, Luke 7:1-10


At this point, Jesus' fame increases, and He begins to place a greater emphasis on repentance.  


This healing was significant because it was a Gentile Roman centurion (a commander of one hundred soldiers) who approached Jesus as Lord. He was a man of great faith and recognized Jesus' authority because He believed that Jesus had the power and authority to heal his servant from a distance. This story is important because it demonstrated the need for faith to enter the kingdom and that even a Gentile could enter if he had faith. This flew against conventional wisdom that said that you had to be a Jew to enter. Salvation is by faith alone. The Luke account records the sending of messengers.

35. Jesus heals Peter's mother-in-law and many others: Matthew 8:14-17, Mark 1:29-34, Luke 4:38-41

Notice how out of order this event is in Matthew. This author points out that Jesus' healing is a fulfillment of prophecy in Isaiah 53:4 because he is writing for a Jewish audience. 


Both Mark and Luke indicate the miracle of Peter's mother-in-law occurred right after Jesus teaching with authority and rebuking the unclean spirit. News is spreading and at the end of the Sabbath day, when healing is permissible, people are bringing the sick to him, and demons know who Jesus is even if the people did not yet. 


122. Jesus teaches about the cost of following him: Matthew 8:18-22, Luke 9:51-62  (note how far out of sync this is with the other numbers in the chronology) 

In the chronological account, Jesus had already predicted his death two times (Luke 9:21-27, 44-45). Jesus knew that His ministry days were numbered, and He needed to leave a band of followers 100% committed to His work. So, He taught them about the cost of following Him.


What does it take to be a disciple of Jesus? It involves being willing to give up everything. Jesus' response to the teacher of the Law revealed that the man wanted fame because he was following this "rising star" rabbi named Jesus. Jesus revealed it would not involve fame or prominence. His response to the second man demonstrated that discipleship was a full-time, full-life occupation, costing everything. 

87. Jesus calms the storm:  Matthew 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41, Luke 8:22-25

Violent storms often arose on the small Sea of Galilee (thirteen miles long and eight miles wide). Jesus asserts His deity by causing the storm to cease with a mere word!  He rebuked His disciples for their "little faith." This is in contrast to the "great faith" of the Gentile centurion in Matthew 8:5-13. 

88. Jesus sends demons into a heard of pigs: Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-20, Luke 8:26-39 


This event probably occurred in a small town called Gersa which is now modern day Khersa. It is located on the Sea of Galilee's eastern shore, and most of the people who lived there were Gentiles. We know this because farmers on the east side of the Sea of Galilee were raising pigs for the predominantly Gentile population since Jews considered pigs "unclean" (Leviticus 11:7). 


The man came out of the tombs which were sometimes places where demented people dwelt. Matthew mentioned two demoniacs, but Mark and Luke put their attention on just one who asked to become a disciple of the Lord. The demons possessing the men knew that Jesus was the "Son of the Most High God."  This title was often used in the Old Testament by Gentiles in order to refer to the God of Israel as above any of their pagan gods (Genesis 14:18-24; Numbers 24:16; Isaiah 14:14; Daniel 3:26; 4:2). 


The name of the demon was Legion. This was a Latin word denoting a Roman army of about 6,000 soldiers. These men were greatly oppressed by a host of demons! Jesus' authority was demonstrated because He gave the demons "permission" to go into the swine. 


The significance of Jesus delivering the Gerasene demoniacs is that they were obviously Gentiles. Jesus was showing that His ministry reach and care was not just to the Jews but to the Gentiles also. It was God's plan all along that Gentiles would be reached with the Good News. 

After one of the men was healed, he asked to accompany Jesus, but Jesus told him to go and tell his family all that the Lord had done. This spread the Good New among the Gentiles in the Decapolis (a league of 10 Greek cities with all but one east of the Jordan).   

REFLECTION/APPLICATION

Miracles and deliverance were a big part of Jesus' ministry to authenticate His authority.  Do you believe it should be a part of our ministry today? 


You can read about this issue in these excellent (and short) articles by John Piper (the audio is much longer, but the written articles are very succinct):


What Are We Up Against? 

How is the Kingdom Present?  
Are Signs and Wonders for Today? 
Gifts of Healings and Workings of Miracles

Also, it would be really valuable for you to gain insight into demonic oppression by reading this book by my good friend, Tom White:

The Believer's Guide to Spiritual Warfare


He just came out with an updated version that my husband is reading with the other elders in our church. You can buy it on Amazon HERE



PRAYER

We believe in Your authority to heal disease, overcome evil forces, and change even the forces of nature. We praise You for Your power and authority, and we want to men and women of faith as we walk as Your disciples. Help us to do so. In Jesus' name, Amen.
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