Matthew 8: Setting Things Right (1)
Pray Psalm 146.1, 2.
Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
While I live I will praise the LORD;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Sing Psalm 146.1, 2, 10.
(Hallelujah! What a Savior!: Man of Sorrows)
Praise the Lord, my soul, give praise! While I live, His Name I’ll raise!
And exalt Him all my days – God forever reigns in Zion!
Read and meditate on Matthew 8.1-4.
1. How did the leper approach Jesus?
2. What did Jesus tell him to do?
The apostle Paul reminds us that the Kingdom of God does not consist in words, but in power (1 Cor. 4.20). Having spoken of the Kingdom and its requirements, Jesus now comes down from the mountain to bring the power of the Kingdom to bear in a sinful world.
The Kingdom has power to reverse the effects of sin and the curse. The leper in this passage recognized that. He came to Jesus and worshiped him, which probably indicates that he fell on his knees before Jesus and bowed. The power of the Kingdom flows to such as worship God and have faith in Him. This man showed his faith by indicating that he knew Jesus had the power to heal him, and he hoped that He would do so.
Jesus responded by a spoken word and a healing touch. Words and deeds are the way that Kingdom power flows to reverse the damage sin has wrought in the world. Jesus instructed the healed leper to follow the Old Testament Law in having his healing confirmed and a gift offered in gratitude to God (cf. Lev. 14.4-32). This was a very complicated and drawn out rite, and it would not always be required. Once the work of Jesus was completed, in sacrificing Himself for all sins, all other sacrifices would cease (cf. Heb. 10.1-9). But for now, it was necessary – to fulfill all righteousness – that this healed leper should fulfill the requirements of the Law. By so doing he would provide “a testimony” to the priests. His testimony would be of his faith in God. But it would also be of his having been healed by Jesus. He would report to the priests both that Jesus had healed him and that He had instructed him to keep the Law. Thus a twofold witness would have been given.
In Matthew 8 Jesus will provide numerous examples of how we should expect to see the power of the Kingdom of God overturning the effects of sin and making all things new. The way we experience and express that power may not be exactly like the way Jesus did. Nevertheless, He is giving us power to seek and advance His Kingdom, and we should make good use of it (Acts. 1.8).
1. What do we learn from the leper about how to approach Jesus for our needs?
2. Why did Jesus insist that the leper should carry out the full obligations of the Law? Was it so that he could be healed, or because he had been healed? What do we learn from this about keeping the Law?
3. What do we learn about the power of God’s Kingdom from this incident?
With great fervor before Jesus’ knees, the leper pleaded with him with sincere faith. He discerned who Jesus was. He did not state conditionally, “If you request it of God” or “If you pray for me.” Rather, he said simply, “If you will, you can make me clean.” He did not pray, “Lord, cleanse me.” Rather, he leaves everything to the Lord and makes his own recovery depend entirely on him. Thus he testified that all authority belongs to him. John Chrysostom (344-407), The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 25.1
O Lord, let Your power be at work in me today as I…
Pray Psalm 146.3-10.
Renew your trust in God alone for the day ahead. Call upon Him to help in all your work, and to strengthen you against every foe.
Sing Psalm 146.3-10.
Psalm 146.3-10 (Hallelujah! What a Savior!: Man of Sorrows)
Trust we not in prince or man – no salvation’s in their hand.
Death shall take them, breath and plans – God forever reigns in Zion!
Blessed are they whose hope resides in the Lord, Christ at His side.
By Him heav’n and earth abide – God forever reigns in Zion!
He is faithful evermore; He gives justice to the poor,
feeds the hungry from His store – God forever reigns in Zion!
Jesus sets the pris’ner free, heals blind eyes that they may see,
lifts those burdened painfully – God forever reigns in Zion!
He the righteous loves the best; wand’rers in His grace are blessed;
needy ones in Him find rest – God forever reigns in Zion!
But the wicked who defame His eternal blessèd Name,
them He brings to ruin and shame – God forever reigns in Zion!
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).