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Chapter 8

 

Christ the Divine Healer

Cleansing the Leper

8:1 After he came down from the mountain, large crowds followed him.

 

After the Lord had finished his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount and came down from the mountain, large crowds followed him. It may have been that his teaching had awakened a sense of their need and they sought more from him. Once we have experienced Christ we will want to experience him more, for we have "tasted and seen that the Lord is good" (Psa. 34:8).

 

8:2 And a leper approached, and bowed low before him, saying, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."

 

It was the news of Christ's healing power as much as his amazing teaching that drew many to him. This sufferer of leprosy had heard the report about Jesus and believed it (Isa. 53:1). He accepted that the Lord had power to heal him, but humbly inquired as to his willingness. This leper gives us an example of how to approach the Lord - in faith and humility. As he bowed low, this man was open and ready to receive anything from Jesus.

 

8:3 He stretched out his hand and touched him saying, "I am willing. Be clean!" Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

 

In reply to the man's question Jesus declares "I am willing!" From the lips of the Son of God this statement is as powerful as the earlier “I am” declarations of God: "I am the Lord that heals you" (Exod. 15:26) and "I am the Lord, I change not" (Mal. 3:6). Since Jesus Christ does not change, the Lord who was willing to heal this leper is still willing to heal. Here is an eternal “I am” saying: “I am willing”.

Because of the leper’s faith and petition, Jesus commanded the healing; notice he did not pray over him. "Be clean!" is the command of the creator, and as Jesus spoke, so the leper became clean (Gen. 1:2-3).

 

8:4 Then Jesus said to him, "See that you do not speak to anyone, but go, show yourself to a priest, and bring the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."

 

Christ did not want cheap advertising for his gospel campaign. He never looked for the fantastic in order to provide publicity. It was enough to Jesus that he had met the need of this man. He did, however, want the man to show the priest a testimony of his divine healing power, and to obey the command of Moses by presenting a thank offering. In this quiet way, Christ sought to win the hearts of the religious leaders, and not without success (Acts 6:7).

 

Healing the Centurion's Servant

8:5-7 When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him asking for help: "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible anguish." Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him."

 

When a Roman centurion approached the Lord with a need, Jesus was willing to go to his home to heal the servant who was in terrible pain and paralyzed, possibly as the result of a recent accident.

 

8:8-9 But the centurion replied, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Instead, just say the word and my servant will be healed.  For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I say to this one, 'Go' and he goes, and to another 'Come' and he comes, and to my slave 'Do this' and he does it."

 

Like the leper, the centurion too was a man of humility and faith. Having heard of the works of Christ, he addressed him as Lord, and did not consider himself worthy for Jesus to come under his roof. He knew that his soldiers obeyed him because of the authority entrusted to him by the emperor. If he commanded them to do anything, it was done at once without demurring. How much more could Christ, who held authority as the representative of God, command that sickness depart? How could sickness refuse him?

 

8:10 When Jesus heard this he was amazed and said to those who followed him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found such faith in anyone in Israel!

 

Christ marvelled at the great faith shown by this Roman, a faith far greater than any he had encountered among the Jews. It gave Christ an opportunity to speak of the day, following his death and resurrection, when the gospel would be preached to the whole world. God's kingdom would be open to all men and the blessings promised to Abraham given to all who would believe in Christ and accept him as Lord and Saviour.

 

8:11-12 I tell you, many will come from the east and west to share the banquet with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, but the sons of the kingdom will be thrown out into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

 

Those who reject Christ will not be part of the kingdom of God, even if they are the natural descendants of those to whom the promises were given (the sons of the kingdom - Israelites). Unbelievers of all races, including those from Israel, shall be cast into the everlasting darkness of hell; where there will be unending pain, anguish and sorrow (signified by the weeping and gnashing of teeth). Christ is the only one who can save us from our sin and its eternal consequences. Those who refuse Christ's salvation must face the punishment for their sin.

 

8:13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go; just as you believed, it will be done for you." And the servant was healed at that hour.

 

As the word of the Lord is given, that which was asked and believed for in faith is granted. This is the way to receive from the Lord Jesus Christ - by asking in faith (Mark 11:24). As soon as the centurion received the word of the Lord with faith, the servant was instantly healed.

 

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Copyright (2009-2015) Sharon Full Gospel Church, UK. Reg. Charity No. 1050642 www.sharonchurch.co.uk

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This Bible study is taken from Faithbuilders: The Gospel of Matthew

 

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