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Lesson 17: Jesus The Healer (Matthew 8:1-17)

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I. Intro and Recap:

a.       Get ready to become more and more fascinated with Jesus.

i.  Isn’t it good to be in the gospel’s just listening to Jesus, watching Jesus, learning from Jesus.

b.      The first great section of the Gospel has been concluded.

i.  It has dealt with the beginnings of the good news, the birth and early years of Jesus, the inauguration of his ministry, and the manifesto of his kingdom.

c.       The sermon on the mountain ended with Jesus calling people to make a choice.  There are two options:

i.  Repentance or hard-heartedness.

ii.  The narrow road or the wide road.

iii.                   The rock foundation or the sandy foundation.

d.      In these next two chapters (8 and 9) we see Jesus demonstrate his authority.

i.  The sermon on the mountain ended with a segue statement on Jesus’ authority.

ii.                        The crowds were astonished by His teaching and in particular, His authority.

iii.                      Jesus was not like other teachers.  He didn’t need to quote others.

iv.                      “You have heard it said, bit I say!”  And this authoritative teaching is what stood out to the listeners.

v.                         However, people still doubted the legitimacy of Jesus, so Mathew now launches in to prove this authority.

vi.                      He does it in a number of ways, but in our passage, Matthew shows the authority of Jesus in his power to heal.

vii.                    His Word’s carry the weight of authority.

1.      8:3, 8:8, 8:13, 8:16.

2.      This reminds us of the power of the Creator, who spoke the universe into being with a word (Gen. 1)

3.      He is mighty in word AND deed.

e.       Outline:

i.  BI: Outcasts and outsiders love Jesus.

II.                      Jesus Heals a Leper (8:1-4)

a.       “behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him...”

i.  Leper was a generic term for skin disease.  So it could have been a number of things.

ii.                        But if it was leprosy in the proper sense, Hansen’s disease, this story makes more sense.

iii.                      By Jewish law he was an unclean man. 

1.      The priests would determine is the skin disease was lereperous or not, but if it was, you would have to be seperated from those who are clean.

2.      But the real issue is the isolation.  He would live alone.  He would die alone.

iv.                      And if you ventured out, you had to cover the lower part of your face and yell as you walked along, “Unclean! Unclean!”

v.                         Skin disease is one thing, but seperation from your community, your family, your life, is another.

vi.                      Evidently he has heard aboiut Jesus healing ministry and because he is desperate he comes and kneels down in front of Jesus.

vii.                    Feel the emotion of this!

1.      This is desperate and miserable and lonely suffering man!  His family has left him.  His friends have left him.

2.      This is a man who has been born into sin and is living with the results of sin.

3.      The Curse has cursed him!

4.      Sickness and death have him by the throat!

5.      And in a moment of brave desperation he comes before Jesus.  He encounters Jesus!  He has heard about Jesus, and now he sees Jesus!

6.      And he says...

b.      “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.”

i.  Notice and learn from this lepers question.

ii.                        He doesn’t dictate to Jesus what to do.

iii.                      He doesn’t test Jesus.  He doesn’t presume.  He doesn’t name and claim and demand healing.

iv.                      He lays before Him, in humility, his request.

v.                         He knows Jesus can heal.  He believes Jesus can heal.  He wants Jesus to heal.  But he rests in the sovereign providence of Jesus and leaves it to Him.

vi.                      “Lord, if it be your will.”

vii.                    Are we comfortable with His will?

1.      Oftentimes we pray in such a way that says, “If it be your will” but inwardly we resent anything other than our own will.

viii.                  This is a great way to ask God!

c.       “I will; be clean”

i.  I don’t know if there is a more encouraging verse in all the Bible.

ii.                        I am willing!

iii.                      Normally a person would be contaminated and made unclean, but not Jesus.  At the touch of Jesus the defiled becomes cleansed!

d.      “And immediately his leprosy was cleansed”

i.  He is not only willing He is capable!

ii.                        Other diseases needed to be ‘healed’, leprosy and leprosy alone needed to be ‘cleansed’.

iii.                      The problem was that folks with leprosy did not get healed! There was no known cure.

iv.                      So there is an appropriateness in the fact that the first mighty act of Jesus, in Matthew’s gospel, is the cleansing of a man with leprosy.

v.                         We not only need to be healed, we need to be cleaned.

vi.                      And He is willing!

e.       The Messianic Secret (8:4)

i.  Why keep this a secret?

1.      There has been a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about why Jesus does this over and over.

2.      Why does he tell people to not tell anyone, but go to the priest?

3.      Why not proclaim it from housetops?  Why not tell people to go show and tell?

4.      Different thoughts:

a.       The gospel writers added this in for some reason.

b.      Jesus didn’t want to be known as a political figure.

c.       Jesus is gaurding against confusion about the primary message.

i.  He doesn’t want to be known pirmarily as a healer

ii.                        He is not just a healer, he is the savior!  And his healing serves to validate the saving.

iii.                      During Jesus’ ministry he is constantly telling people to keep a secret, but then after his death and resurrection.  After He had made provision for forgiveness and peace with God, he tells them to tell everyone.

iv.                      Before the cross—“Keep your mouth shut”

v.                         After the cross—“Don’t shut your mouth” 

5.      Today, we are people with a message.  A unique message.  That Jesus is Lord and He is Savior.  Receive peace with God through Jesus Christ.  Settle with Him outside of court!

6.      He is a Healer, but His healing serves to illustrates His saving and His cleansing.

ii.                        Why go to the priests?

1.      Jesus said this would be a testimony to the priests. And so it was, for in the entire history of the nation there was no record of any Israelite being healed from leprosy other than Miriam (Num. 12:10-15). One can imagine the dramatic impact when this man suddenly appeared at the temple and announced to the priests he had been cured of leprosy!

2.      Here perhaps nothing more is implied by Jesus’ words than that the newly cleansed leper should not be distracted from his responsibility to follow the procedures of the law (as set forth in Lev 14:1–32).

3.      He could easily have been so overjoyed, telling everyone what had happened, that he would not have obeyed God’s commandments. Until Jesus’ death and resurrection, the sacrificial laws remained God’s will for his people; Jesus never encouraged anyone to contravene them during his lifetime.

4.      Indeed, someone greater than Moses is here.

III.                   Jesus Heals a Gentile (8:5-13)

a.       The Centurion comes to Jesus and pleads (8:5-6)

i.  This man was a Roman soldier.  A Captain and leader of men.

ii.                        It’s inetresting that every mention of a Centurion in Scripture is positive.

iii.                      He is a leader of a century of people, or about 100 people. 

iv.                      His servant is in misery, and he loves his servant, and He asks Jesus to come and heal Him.

b.      Jesus says He will come and heal his servant (8:7)

i.  “I will come and heal him.”

c.       The Centurion responds to Jesus (8:8-9)

i.  He obviously understands the Jewish customs well enough because he tells Jesus to not come to his house, which was forbidden, but to just say the word.

ii.                        He displays humility.  He ackowledges Jesus superiourity. He displays faith.  He also calls Jesus Lord. 

iii.                      In others words, He recognizes what the Jewish Religious leaders of the day refused to recognize.

d.      Jesus comments on the Gentile  (8:10-12).

i.  A number of interseting things happen here:

1.      A Gentile man is desperate.

2.      Jesus breaks custom by interacting with him.

3.      Jesus heals from a distance.

4.      The man Jesus heals a Gentile.

5.      The Gentiles are offered inclusion to the Kingdom of God.

6.      The Jews are warned of exclusion is they don’t repent.

a.       The gospel was ‘first for the Jew, then for the Gentile’.  But both Jews and Gentiles males and females are called to respond with faith and repentance to Jesus Christ.

b.      This was both staggering and appalling to many of the Jews!

c.       We don’t need to repent!  They thought!  I’m in the right group!

ii.                        But Jesus rattles their false sense of security .

1.      Jesus was surrounded by people who thought that because of their ethnicity and heritage that they were sons of the kingdom.

2.      Jesus was surrounded by people who thought that all was well with their souls, when all was not well.

3.      Jesus was surrounded by people who flattered themselves with the notion that hell was for the outcasts, but a great feast awaited them.

iii.                      So Jesus goes for the juggular of any kind of false sense of security.

1.      Those who thing they will automatically gain entrance because of their religious backgrounds would not find entrance.  Instead they would be cast into judgment.

2.      As Bruner provocatively warns, “Hell is not a doctrine used to frighten unbelievers; it is a doctrine used to warn those who think themselves believers.”

3.     Jonathan Edwards, “Almost every natural man that hears of hell, flatters himself that he shall escape it.”

iv.                      Today we have a similar problem.

1.      We have millions of people who wrongly assume that because they have prayed a prayer or stood up in an Easter service to receive Christ, or been baptized, or walked an isle to the altar, of signed a card to become a Christian, that they are sons and daughters of the kingdom.

2.      Others assume that because they have grown up on the church, or their parents were missionaries, that they are sons and daughters of the kingdom.

3.      As we saw last week in the Sermon on the Mount, “not everyone who claims the name of Jesus will be saved!  He may say, “Depart from me, I never knew you!”

4.      The lesson from the outsider Centurion is instructive!

5.      Lay yourself low before the King!  Acknowledge your sinfulness and lowliness and acknowledge His power to heal and to save and call upon His Name!  He has the power and authority to save!

e.       The servant is healed (8:13)

i.  That very moment the servant was healed.

ii.                        The healing isn’t in proportion to his faith, it isn’t caused by his faith, the healing is in response to his faith.

iii.                      It’s not our faith that saves us or heals, it is the object of our faith that saves and heals.

iv.                      Matthew’s point is not “what an incredible Gentile,” but rather, “what an incredible Jesus.”

v.                         It’s the authority of Jesus that is powerful.

vi.                      It’s the compassion of Jesus that is comforting.

vii.                    It’s warning of the hell of outer darkness that is terrifying.

IV.                    Jesus Heals a Woman (8:14-17).

a.       Here Matthew records another vingnete of Jesus healing people.

b.      Jesus enters Peter’s house and sees his Mother-in-law lying sick with a fever.

c.       Jesus touches her hand, and the fever left.

i.  The healing is immediate.

ii.                        The healing is total.

iii.                      The healing results in service.

d.      She gets right up and starts serving.

e.       Later that evening demon-possessed people and other sick people are healed.

f.        Behold, Jesus the Healer.

V.                       Application:  We are help the outcasts and the powerless.

a.       None of these three groups, the leper, the Roman, or Peter’s mother in law, could have entered the Temple courts.  In a sense they were on the margins.  They had no religious status.

b.      Just look at Jesus’ genealogy!

c.       Jesus is a friend of sinners and He is a friend of the outsider and the outcast!

i.  He came for the Jews AND the Gentiles.

d.      He came for sinners, and spiritually speaking, that’s ALL of us!

i.  If you don’t get this, then Jesus will be nothing more than a magician to you.  He will be nothing more than someone who does some neat tricks.  You will simply be a spectator not a particpiant.

ii.                        The point Matthew is making is that Jesus has come for outcasts, and WE are the outcasts.

iii.                      The one theme throughout chapters 8–9 is that all these people were helpless to address their own need.

iv.                      All of them needed someone outside themselves to help them.

v.                         Our helplessness, whether recognized or not, is the great equalizer before God.

vi.                      Jesus loves helpless people.

vii.                    Blessed are the POOR in spirit and those who mourn.

viii.                  Because that’s the place of blessing.

ix.                      These people would have never gone to Jesus is they were not in need.

e.       Who are the powerless or the outctast today?

i.  The sick.

ii.                        The elderly.

iii.                      The lonely.

iv.                      The disabled.

v.                         Jesus says when you throw a party, don’t invite the popular and the impressive and the educated and the folks who know their manners.  Invite the fringe folks.  Invite the rough-around-the edges folk.  Invite the univited and the unpopular.

f.        Pracically:

i.  Teach your kids to pursue the outcast.

ii.                        Pursue the lonely.

iii.                      Befiend those with no friends.

g.      The Messianic Secret is also instructive for us.

i.  Our message is NOT that Jesus is just a great healer.

ii.                        Our message is that Jesus is a Great Savior.

iii.                      And we are to share this people with anyone who is poor enough in spirit to hear it.  Anyone willing to listen.  Any who recognizes he or she is a spiritual outcast.

h.      Church planting:

i.  We are looking at starting another site which will eventually turn in to its own church.

ii.                        This creates room here and it will create room there.

iii.                      We need people to go and we need people to stay.

iv.                      Those who go provide opportunities for those who stay and those who stay provide opportunities for those who go.

v.                         We are all people on mission.

vi.                      Let me say it again.  Every single one of us has a mission from God to reach people.

vii.                    It is no different if you go or stay.  We have a Great Commssion to make disciples.

viii.                  One thing to keep in mind as we make disciples is to be people who reach out to the outcasts.

ix.                      As we fulfill the Great Commission.  As we learn to be disciples of Jesus, it’s as though the Word of God is telling us to keep an eye on the outcasts.

1.      At your workplace—pursue the outcast.

2.      At your college—pursue the outsider.

3.      At your school—pursue the outcast.

4.      In your neighborhood—pursue the outsider.

5.      Invite them to your home, invite them to church, show them love.

VI.                    Application: Six things to keep in mind if you are sick.

a.       How do we procress sickness?  How do we not despair?

i.  The most trying times in my life and my marriage have centered around health.

1.      And our trials have been nothing in comparison to others.

ii.                        Many of you could say the same.

1.      Many of you suffer with your own health, or are suffering with the health of someone you love...

2.      This is real.

iii.                      Praying for Daniel Losey.

1.      Daniel is 9 years old and he needs a heart transplant.

2.      This is weighty.

iv.                      Praying for Daniel Good.

1.      Trench foot in China.

2.      Young man serving the Lord, and gets sick.

3.      This is a trial.

v.                         Both of these families are incredible.  They are trusting God.  They are clinging to his promises.

vi.                      Psalm 61:1-2, Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint.  Lead me to the rock that is higher than I…”

vii.                    I am burdened and my heart is heavy as I, with the elders, try to shepherd folks through sickness.

viii.                  How do we do it?

ix.                      How do we process this?

b.      Sickness leads us to Jesus.

i.  These people would have never come to Jesus if all was well.

1.      Jesus would have never been precious to them!

2.      I bet the leper was praising God that he had leprosy because He never would have met Jesus.  It brought him to Jesus!

ii.                        Their sickness made them poor in spirit and needy.

iii.                      Their deperation was GOOD and designed by God.

iv.                      The worst thing that could happen to a person is to sense no need for Christ.

v.                         The worst thing that could happen to you is to sense no deperation for Jesus.

vi.                      Tim Keller gives a good illustration on the purpose of sickness (and suffering).

1.      Do you remember when your mother used to say, "Don't eat candy before meals?" Why did she say that? Because she knew it would ruin your next meal. The trouble with eating candy is that it gives you a sugar buzz, and then you don't feel hungry. Candy masks the fact that your body needs proteins and vitamins. The sugar buzz from candy masks your hunger for the real nutrients that you don't have.

2.      Things like sex, power, money, and success—as well as favorable circumstances—act like spiritual sugar. Christians who have these spiritual candies may say, "Sure, I believe in God and I know I'm going to heaven," but they're actually basing their day-to-day joy on favorable circumstances. When the circumstances change, it drives us to God, because when the sugar disappears, when the candy gets taken away, we're forced to pursue the feast that our souls really crave. We'll hunger for the spiritual nutrients we really need.”

3.      Sickness has a way of taking off the mask.

vii.                    When we lose our health its as though God is pulling back the mask!

1.      We suddenly see things more clearly!

2.      We become poor in spirit.

3.      We are needy, and Christ is rich.

4.      Sickness leads us to Jesus.

viii.                  When Paul was sick, it led Him to Jesus.

1.      Here is Paul.  The cheif of the Apostles.  The Mouthpiece for Christianity.  And he is sick.  He is in misery.

2.      Sickness taught Paul us that God’s grace is sufficient.

3.      2 Cor. 12:7-10,  So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

c.       Sickness is not always healed.

i.  In the early Church many stayed sick for long periods of time.

1.      Galatians 4:13-15 Paul was ill

2.      2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Paul was afflicted

3.      Philippians 2:25-30 Epaphroditus was ill (A.D. 60)

4.      1 Timothy 5:23 Timothy was ill (A.D. 62-3)

5.      2 Timothy 4:20 Trophimus was ill (A.D. 64).

ii.                        Ryle says, “There is a proverb that says, ‘A man’s home is his castle;’ but there are no doors and bars which keep out disease and death.”

1.      You cannot escape it.  It is among ALL people.

2.      We all get sick, and we all die.

iii.                      Matthew quotes Isaiah 53 and says that this was a fulfillment of a prophecy, “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

1.      This verse should not be used to justify healing on demand.

2.      While it’s true that healing is part of the atonement, some folks have misused this verse to name and claim healing.

3.      It’s also true that our resurrection bodies are included in the atonement as a promise, but we obviously don’t have that yet.

4.      So the cross is the bases for our healing AND our saving, BUT that’s doesn’t that all of the benifits of the cross will come before the Lord returns.

iv.                      We see accounts of three different people getting healed, then later a bunch more.  But we never see entire villages healed.

v.                         Even in Jesus’ day, many paralytics stayed on their beds, many blind remained sightless, and many demons remained unexorcised.

vi.                      Jesus did as many miracles as necessary to validate his identity and his message, that the deeper spiritual need of mankind might be addressed.

vii.                    Why are some healed and other not?

1.      The short ansewer is that we don’t know.  God is God and we are not.  God is does all things well, and we don’t see the big picture.

2.      The longer answer is that we are between two worlds.

a.       Already/Not Yet.

b.      The Kingdom God has arrived with Jesus, but it is not yet.

viii.                  Nonethless, How should we pray for healing?

1.      First of all, it is good to pray for healing.

2.      James 5:14-15,  Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.”

d.      Sickness enables us to minister and have compassion on others.

i.  Our sicknesses enable us to have compassion and minister to others.

1.      Food poisoning…(new way of cooking chicken)

ii.                        2 Cor. 1:3-7, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God…If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer…

e.       Sickness can be a means of God disciplining us.

i.  1 Cor. 11:30, “That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.  But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.”

ii.                        Psalm 119:71, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.”


iv.                      Luke 15:16-18- the Pridigal found himself eating pig food.  God using this trial wake him up.

v.                         Heb. 12:5-12, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

f.        Sickness can make us more sanctified.

i.  The misery of illness can purify our faith, as Peter says.

ii.                        The story is Job is insightful:

1.      Job 5:17, “Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.”

2.      Job learned to trust God in the midst of tremendous suffering.

iii.                      Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in Gulag Archipelago “Bless you prison, for ever having been in my life.”

iv.                      James 1:2-4, Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

v.                         Rom. 5:3-5, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

vi.                      In other words, the sickness you have can not only be used of God, but designed by God.

1.      God the Almighty, as we see clearly in the Scriptures, it totally and comprehesivly sovereign over all things, which includes your sickness.

2.      Charles Spurgeon, “I believe that every particle of dust that dances in the sunbeam does not move an atom more or less than God wishes—that every particle of spray that dashes against the steamboat has its orbit, as well as the sun in the heavens—that the chaff from the hand of the winnower is steered as the stars in their courses.  The creeping of an aphid over the rosebud is as much fixed as the march of the devastating pestilence—the fall of sere leaves from a poplar is as fully ordained as the tumbling of an avalanche.”

3.      This is a mountaintop truth that will encourage you.

4.      This is a Rocky Mountain top truth that cannot be assuaged.

5.      If you are in Christ, even though you suffer with illness and infirmities, God in Christ is for you, not against you, and He is not aloof in what He allows and doesn’t allow in your life.

6.      He is a good Father with good purposes and good plans.

g.      Sickness breaks the heart of Jesus.

i.  The Story of Lazarus:

1.      Jesus delays in coming.

2.      He waits four days.

3.      John emphasizes this by pointing out that Lazarus had been dead and buried for 4 days.

ii.                        The sisters are distraught.

1.      In their minds.  What’s done is done.  They have seen this before.  People get sick, then they die.  It’s sad, if Jesus was there earlier He could have healed him.  They knew he had the power to heal.  Why was he so slow?  Was he aloof?  Was his mind somewhere else?

2.      Why didn’t He use His power to heal?

3.      Is the heart of Jesus cold?

iii.                      Jesus weeps (11:28-37)

1.      Jesus is broken over the reality of the situation.  He sees the curse of sickness and fruit of sickness and this death and He weeps!

a.       This is the fruit of Sin.  Sickness and now death.

2.      Jesus is tenderhearted and he weeps!  He mourns with them.

3.      Jesus is not far from the brokenhearted.

4.      Here is a glimpse of the heart of our Lord.

b.      He is not unaffected or unmoved with our infirmities and sicknesses and death.  He weeps.

b.      Britt Merrick story:

i.  Calvary Chapel Bible teacher in Santa Barbara CA.

ii.                        Daughter Daisy gets a cancerous tumor in her stomach when she is about three years old.

iii.                      Just died at 6 or 7 years old.

iv.                      He gives a sermon a few days before she died saying how hard it’s been and the despair, etc.

v.                         The turning point for him was when he stopped asking “Why?” and started asking “Who?”

VII.                The Gospel.

Related Topics: Christology, Evangelism, Soteriology (Salvation)

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