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From the Come Follow Me manual for Sunday School, Families, and Individuals – this review covers the lesson plan for Matthew chapters 8 and 9. Also, Mark chapters 2 through 5.
In the previous lesson we concluded the Savior’s Sermon on the Mount. The Master now continues His ministry and teaching in Galilee. The manual makes a great point in today’s study by stating: “It’s hard to read the New Testament without being impressed by the many accounts of the Savior’s healing the sick and afflicted – everyone from a woman with a fever to a girl who had been pronounced dead. What messages might there be for us in these miracles of physical healing? Certainly, one obvious message is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, with power over all things. Including our physical pains and imperfections. But another meaning found in His words to the skeptical scribes: ‘That ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins (Mark 2:10).’ So, when you read about a blind person or a leper being healed, you might think of the healing – both spiritual and physical – that you can receive from the Savior and hear Him say to you, ‘Thy faith hath made thee, whole (Mark 5:34)’.”
His popularity has resulted in large crowds following Jesus.
Matthew 8:2-3 “And behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou can’t make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleaned.” This loathsome disease is a perfect picture of the filthiness and decay of sin. Leprosy, like most sin begins really small. In time it spreads, infecting everything. It has, the ability to desensitize the body like sin desensitizes the soul. In time it takes over the entire existence of the individual. In biblical times there was no cure for leprosy. For this leper, Jesus was the only solution. For the sinner, Jesus is the only solution. And friends, we are ALL sinners. This leper placed his faith and trust in the Lord as one having the power to cure him. Riddled with leprosy – riddled with sin – the Savior reaches out and touches us with His healing.
Matthew 8:5 “And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion beseeching him.” First a leper – now a powerful Roman commander – who was probably a pagan. Matthew 8:6 “And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.” And what does the Lord say? Matthew 5:7 “And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.” How does the Roman respond? Matthew 8:8 “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.” Matthew 8:10 “When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to them that followed. Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” The best synonym for the Greek word for “marvel” is “admire.” The centurion caused our Lord to marvel or admire him for his demonstration of faith. How would that be, to have God admire our faith in Him and our love for others? Matthew 8:13 “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.”
After that, Jesus heals Peter’s Mother-in-law of a fever.
Matthew 8:16 “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.” No mention of anointing them with consecrated oil or laying on of hands. Just as He had done in creation – He by, the power of His Word, spoke it into existence. Jesus simply cast out spirits and healed the sick by the power of His word.
Matthew 8:18 “Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.” Of the Sea of Galilee. Even our Lord needed to escape from time to time. We are physical beings. We need nourishment, relaxation, and time to personally commune with God – So did Jesus.
At this point, Jesus and his disciples entered into what the Kings James called, a “ship.” Probably, an open boat. Mark 4:36 tells us there were many other boats in the company with them. What we are about to read is a clear demonstration that Christ has power over the natural elements. Matthew 8:24 “And behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he (the Savior) was asleep.” Jesus was so weary not even this violent tossing of the boat which was beginning to take on water awakened Him. One can imagine the stressed-out disciples in the midst of this dangerous situation freaking out. May I suggest – the ability to feel safe in the hands of God is directly related to the personal relationship you have with HIm. Trusting in Him when all things seem to be falling down around you. This story gives us a perfect picture of where and, to whom to turn, when we find ourselves amidst the storms of life.
Matthew 8:25 “And his disciples came to him and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.” What a great picture this scripture gives us all. Like the disciples, we are all in the process of perishing. Yet, right there in the boat with them slept their solution. The ONLY solution. And so, it is with every single human being when facing their mortality, their sin, and the solution to it. So, Jesus gets woken up. Matthew 8:26 “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.” After all the miracles they have watched Him perform, they should know that He is the Son of God and there is no way that boat was going to sink. Trust in Him! They are about to witness some real Godly power – over the weather and the sea. Typically, waves do not just stop – they slowly recede to a calm over a period of hours. But for Him to rebuke and there to be a “great calm” must have been amazing to witness. I wonder if Jesus said, “Well, that’s that” and laid back down to finish His nap? Matthew 8:27 “But the men marveled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him.”
Matthew 8:28 “And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergeseness, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.” The same story is retold in Mark 5:1-20 with some differences. These demons apparently know full well who Jesus is, as they react to seeing Him. Matthew 8:29 “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?” It appears these demons know that there will be a day and time when they will be punished. The demons saw a herd of swine and asked Jesus, if He was going to cast them out. to allow the demons to enter into the swine. Matthew 8:32 “And he said unto them, Go, And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd (2,000 according to Mark 5:13) of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.”
Jesus then returns to His own home town. Matthew 9:2 “And, behold, they brought to him a man sick with of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” In Mark’s account it reads “they uncovered the roof,” and let him down into the room. The scribes and Pharisees must have been saying to themselves – “What did he say? Your sins are forgiven you?” They accused Jesus of blasphemy, since only God could forgive sins – not realizing God incarnate was standing before them. There is only one answer – either Jesus WAS a blasphemer Or, He was God. Now, we might wonder, why didn’t Jesus just heal this man like the others but instead chose to tell him his sins were forgiven first? Maybe the Lord discerned that the man was very frightened of being discovered for his sins or maybe he feared he was such a sinner that Christ would have nothing to do with him. So, maybe the Lord re-assured him that his offenses were pardoned, so that he could lay aside all his fears which could have impeded his healing. If Jesus had simply said to him, your sins are forgiven and then walked away, nobody would have reason to believe the sins had been forgiven. So, maybe in proof of it, he worked a miracle; and no one, therefore, could doubt that he had the power to forgive sins. Matthew 9:6-7 “But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins, Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house.”
And here we come to an interesting bit of historical chronology. Matthew, the tax collector and author of this gospel was not called to follow Jesus until now. That would have meant that he was not present when Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 9:9 “And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.” According to Mark 2:14, he was formerly known by the name – Levi. When he followed Jesus, it seems either himself or Jesus gave him a new name – Matthew. And in the transition of Levi the publican tax collector – becoming Matthew the disciple of Christ, he throws a party and invites all his friends over. Matthew 9:11 “And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?” – the great unwashed! Matthew 9:12 “But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them (the Pharisees), They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” He is saying, “If you Pharisees think yourselves as already pure and holy, you have no need for my healing or what I am offering you. I am here for those who know they are sick and are willing to admit it. They’re the ones who need a doctor. I am the Great Physician whose purpose is to save sinners.” Matthew 9:13 “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Meaning – “I am more pleased with acts of mercy and kindness than with a mere external compliance with the duties of religion.” The Pharisees pretended or actually thought they were righteous. Because they were self-righteous, Jesus knew they wouldn’t be receptive to His forgiveness.
Matthew 9:18-26 “There came a certain ruler (Jairus) saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.” Matthew 9:23 “And when Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the minstrels (musicians) and the people (mourners) making a noise, He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. But when the people were put forth (out of the house), he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose. And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land.”
You probably noticed that Jairus requested the Lord to come and lay His hand upon her. The LDS have a protocol in administering to the sick where Melchizedek priesthood holders will first anoint the head of the individual with consecrated oil. Then, placing their hands on the sick person’s head will give a blessing of healing in the name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the priesthood which they hold. According to Mark and Luke, Jairus was a Jewish ruler of the synagogue. Because of his religious background he expected Jesus to lay hands on his daughter. But, Jesus didn’t. Neither did Jesus anoint her with oil. And, neither did Jesus declare a priesthood authority to heal the girl. I’m not discounting the fact that our personal touching of another person brings intimacy and compassion as Jesus demonstrated in many healings. But religious ordinances and proper procedures are not what’s important. Faith is all that is required.
For the remainder of this 9th chapter, we read about more healings and miracles. It must have been overwhelming for Jesus and the disciples to witness all the disease and sickness among the people, knowing that not all would be physically healed. More so, as it says in Matthew 9:36 “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” The people were wandering about without the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Matthew 9:37-38 “Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laboureres are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.”
And, that is the end of our review of Matthew 8-9 and Mark 2-5.