The Amazing Power of Jesus
Jesus' Power over Disease, Part 2
Matthew 8:5-15
           
Tonight we return to Matthew 8 for the second look at a series of miracles that show us the amazing power of Jesus. 
 
The first three miracles deal with physical problems and illnesses.  In the day of Jesus Christ, disease was rampant throughout the world.  The world was literally filled with disease and medical science was not advanced enough to be of much help. 
 
The Bible talks a great deal about sicknesses and illnesses that existed at the time of Christ.   It mentions atrophy, , blindness, boils, deafness, being mute, dysentery, epilepsy, bleeding problems, speech impediments, stomach disorders, inflammation, skin disease, tumors, and ulcers.
 
Then in addition to those, there are three in particular we see here in the miracles of Matthew 8 which are leprosy, paralysis, and fever. 
 
So in the era of Jesus, suffice it to say there was a lot of sickness and illness and very little that could be done about most of it and then along came Jesus.
 
And He touched human life at the point of its greatest pain, the point of disease.  And He had the most successful medical practice in all of Palestine.
 
And he dealt with very difficult cases including death. 
 
Jesus swept into town one day with His healing power and healed thousands upon thousands upon thousands of people.  And the purpose was to validate His claim to be the Son of God. 
 
Now against the statements about multitudes found in Matthew 8:1, the rest of the chapter, along with chapter nine, slows down to give us some individual case studies. 
 
Last week, we saw the first one in verses 1 to 4.  A wretched man with leprosy is healed.  He comes to Jesus and Jesus touches and heals him. He is a vivid illustration of us in sin and how God receives us and saves us.
 
In the next set of verses, we move from a wretched man to a respected man.  He is identified as a Roman centurion.  Here we find a man who also would be by the Jews considered an outcast, because he is a Gentile and worse than that, a Roman soldier.
 
Normally, he would be hated, close to a leper; but our Lord also heals in his behalf; and, again, what the Lord is saying is this.  The extent of the Kingdom is for the down and out and the outcast and the Gentile. 
 
verse 5
 
Let's talk a little about a centurion.  Every time you see a centurion appear in the New Testament, he's a good guy.  It's really amazing.  It's as if the Lord purposely picks out some of the most hated people in Palestine as illustrations of goodness and faith and saving grace, to show the extent of His Kingdom is to reach beyond Israel. 
Every time you find a centurion, whether it's the guy who was there at the crucifixion, or whether it's Cornelius, or whether it's this guy, they're all good guys; and I think we’ll meet many of them in heaven. 
 
He was also a Roman centurion.  The soldier's of the Roman occupation army were not really sent from Rome.  They were trained in the community or the area where they were being occupied; and according to history, what they did in Palestine was find non-Jewish people in that area and conscript them into the Roman army and trained them. 
 
This man in Capernaum was, most likely, a soldier under the troops of Antipas; and if he was a non-Jew living in this area, it is highly likely that he was a Samaritan; and if it was bad to be a Gentile, the worst kind of Gentile was a Samaritan because a Samaritan was a Jew who had intermarried into Gentile lines.  And that was to sacrifice his Jewish heritage, the worst imaginable kind of Gentile half-breed.
 
So here you've got a guy who's a Gentile.  He's the worst kind of Gentile, a Samaritan.  He's the worst kind of Samaritan.  He is a member of the occupation forces of the Roman army who are oppressing Israel.
 
And any self-respecting Pharisee is going to say, "Why in God's name would You ever do a favor for somebody like that?"  That's just the point.  They had no concept of God’s love and forgiveness.  As far as they were concerned that was reserved for us four, no more and shut the door.
So when Jesus comes along and shows kindness to a half-breed Samaritan traitor it was more than they could handle and they hated Him for it.    
 
But there was another side to this man.  He obviously cared about his servant, and that sets him apart from just about everybody else in the Roman world.  In fact, in the Roman Empire, slaves didn't matter.  If they suffered, it didn't matter.  If they lived, it didn't matter.  If they died, it didn't matter.  They were of no consequence.  But this man cared enough to get involved. 
 
He was an humble man.  He didn’t want Jesus to come to his house.  In fact, Luke implies that the man didn’t even come himself, but sent some friends on his behalf.  And when they came they talked to Jesus about what a good man he was and how he had built the Jews a synagogue.  He must have had some respect for the Jews and their religion.
 
And apparently he’s a God-fearing man who has faith in the power of Jesus.  He knew Jesus could heal his servant. So here is a good Gentile who loved the Jews and Israel enough to build them a synagogue.  He was an humble man who loved his servant. 
 
And notice what the verse word form his mouth is. 
 
Verse 6
 
"Lord"
 
He begins the same way as the leper.  "Lord". It’s not just being polite, it is an acknowledgement of the deity of Christ. 
 
In case you doubt that, look at verse 10
 
Jesus said, “This is the greatest faith I've ever seen." 
 
Faith, what do you mean?  Faith in the reality of who Christ was.  That's what it has to mean.  He believed Jesus was God.  That is the epitome of faith, and Jesus says his was that kind of faith. 
 
And then the request comes.  Actually it isn’t a request at all.  It’s just information. 
 
He doesn't presume to ask that.  His prayer is a prayer of information.  "Lord, here is the need.  I lay it before You.  I accept Your sovereignty and Your choice." 
 
What was his disease?  Paralysis, the impairment of sensation or muscle function by injury or disease to the spinal cord, the brain, or the nerves.  We don't know a lot of the particulars of the problem.  It could have been polio or a nervous system problem or a arain disorder or a tumor.  We just don't know; but he was paralyzed and in tremendous pain and was headed toward death. 
 
Then comes our Lord's response.
 
verses 7-8
 
That’s significant.  Jews weren’t allowed to visit Gentile homes.  This man has such respect for Judaism he doesn’t want to put Jesus in that spot.  He doesn’t deserve it and he knows it. 
 
Now keep in mind, this man is a centurion.  He is in charge of a contingent of 100 men.  You didn't become a centurion by going from a desk job into this.  You became a centurion by working your way up through the ranks.  This guy was a drill sergeant, tough, combat-oriented; but what a gentle, humble, meek, sensitive, loving, tenderness; and all this for a sick slave? 
 
And he has this dilemma because he his servant is sick and Jesus is the only solution but he doesn’t want Jesus to have to come to his house.  So notice what his suggestion is at the end of
 
verse 8
 
What brought him to that conclusion?  Well obviously he’s been paying attention to what’s happening where Jesus shows up.   He said, "Just say the word.  That's it.  You don't need to come in.  I know the authority that comes out of Your mouth.    I believe he knew that He was God, and that he was in the presence of God. 
 
And then what he says next is so significant that it draws from Jesus the response that He’s never seen such faith as this man has.  Notice what he says. 
 
Verse 9-10
 
Now I must confess to you that for a long time I couldn’t see what was so great about what that man said. I didn’t understand why Jesus was so amazed.
 
But I’ll tell you this:  If it amazed Jesus, it ought to amaze me. I would think it would take a lot to amaze Jesus.
There are only two instances in the Bible where we are told He was amazed and both times He expressed amazement at the faith of a Gentile. What could you show Jesus or what could you tell Jesus that would amaze Him? He’s seen it all! He made it all!  
 
So obviously there is something here that we are missing.  Let me see if I can unpack it for you. 
 
Jesus told the centurion that He would come to his house and heal his servant. But the centurion replied, “Oh, no, Lord, don’t do that. I’m not worthy to have you come under my roof.   Just speak the word, and my servant will live, for I also am a man under authority.”
 
Now I would expect his next words to be, “And if I am told to go somewhere, I go somewhere, and when I am told to do something, I do something.” But that’s not what the centurion said.  
 
Instead He said, “For I also am a man under authority with soldiers under me. And I say to this one, go, and he goes. And to this one, do this, and he does it.”
 
So the centurion was saying, “I live under authority; therefore, I have authority.” And he did. He had authority over one hundred soldiers. That’s why they called him a centurion.  
 
And as long as that centurion was submitted to the authority of the emperor, he had the emperor’s authority over those one hundred soldiers. If he rebelled against the authority of the emperor, he lost his authority over those one hundred soldiers.
So that was the principle by which he was living. But that’s still not what amazed Jesus. What amazed Jesus was one little word that the man said.
 
Some translations say “also.” Some say “too.” And unfortunately, some translations leave it out. But it belongs there.
 
Now listen to me as I quote it: “He came to Jesus and he said, ‘Lord, my servant is sick.’ Jesus said, ‘I’ll come to your house and heal him.’ The centurion said, ‘Oh, no, Lord, don’t do that. I’m not worthy to have you come under my roof.   Just speak the word, and my servant will live, for I also am a man under authority.”’
 
In other words, “I don’t have to run my own errands. If I want something done, I tell others to do it, and it’s done for me. And Lord, I understand that You live by the same principle I live by.”
 
When he said, “I, also, am a man under authority,” this is what amazed Jesus, that this centurion had such great insight into the truth that Jesus Himself lived by that same principle. He said, “I have never seen such faith.” 
 
He recognized that Jesus lived under the authority of His Father, therefore He had His Father’s authority. That’s the principle by which the centurion lived. He was under the authority of the emperor; therefore, he had the emperor’s authority.
 
And in so many words, what he's saying is, "Hey, I understand how you operate.  You operate in someone else’s authority.  You are sent by and empowered by God Himself. 
I’ve seen what You can do.  I know what authority you have.  Therefore, you don’t have to bother with coming to my house because just a word from God will be sufficient. 
 
This is great faith and it amazed Jesus!
 
Then notice verse 11
 
Now unless you are really paying attention, this verse seems a little detached from the narrative.  Why does Jesus jump from agreeing to heal a servant to talking about faith to a statement about the coming kingdom?
 
Think about it like this:  There is coming a millennial Kingdom and an eternal Kingdom in the future and in that Kingdom, God's wonderful promise to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob will come to pass.  They are the people of the covenant.  They were the ones through whom God brought the covenant.  That means there is an essential “Jewishness”  in the future of God's plans for the world and Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob represent that. 
 
But it is not exclusively Jewish and that’s what He is talking about in verse 11.
 
Who are the many?  The answer is found in where they come from.  They come from the east and the west.  So if the beginning point is Israel and you go east or west from there you immediately come to the Gentile world.  And what Jesus is saying, sparked by the amazing faith of this centurion is, “When the kingdom comes, not only will Abraham, Isaac and Jacob be there, but Henry and Pedro and Enrico and people like this centurion will be there as well.
They didn't believe that.  That was a shocking statement.  This was contrary to all their teaching.  They believed that, before the Kingdom came, all the Gentiles would be destroyed. 
 
But the reality is, the Kingdom has encompassed the Gentiles and in many regards the faith of the Gentiles is much greater than the faith of the Jews. 
 
Here we are two-thousand years later and the church is primarily Gentile.. 
 
And as hard as that was to believe, the next statement really knocked them for a loop.
 
Verse 12
 
That is an extremely strong statement.  Jesus says some of the Jews are going to hell. You don’t get into the kingdom because of an earthly lineage but a heavenly connection.
 
And so right in the middle of this healing miracle Jesus gives a little Bible study on the kingdom and salvation and then at verse 13 we get back to the story.
 
Verse 13
 
Jesus says, "You can all go back home.  He's healed." 
 
Can you imagine that little guy all of a sudden being healed?  Popping out of his bed, off that mat, saying, "I don't know what you did, sir, but I'm healed." 
 
Can you imagine if the centurion believed what he believed before, what he must've believed after?
 
Now there’s one more miracle here and I just want to touch on it to make a point. 
 
Jesus has just made this point about the kingdom being opened to the Gentile world and to illustrate it, notice what happens:
 
Verses 14-15
 
One of the other Gospels tells us that this happened on the Sabbath and now we discover when church was over they all went to Peter’s house for lunch. We know from Mark’s account that Andrew, James and John were there along with Peter and Jesus, Peter’s wife and her mother.
 
And everyone is ready for lunch, but there’s a problem because Momma is sick.  How can you have Sabbath dinner when mother-in-law is sick?  After all  what’s a mother-in-law's for?
 
Plus, even if someone else cooked, it just kind of puts a damper on the whole deal for her to be lying in there moaning with a fever.
 
But anyway, they say to Jesus, “Come on over to Peter’s house so you can heal his mother-in-law and have dinner. 
 
Now, the a good Pharisee greeted the day every morning by saying, “Lord, I thank You that I am not a slave, a Gentile, or a woman." 
 
They had a very low view of women and for Jesus to throw in a healing of a woman, you see, is just another indictment.  And to heal a mother-in-law  was even going way yonder over and above. 
 
So He is really digging in deep by healing first a leper, then a Gentile and now a woman.
 
Verse 15
 
And I like the fact that she immediately got up and went to the kitchen to get lunch ready.
 
There is a beautiful illustration of salvation in that.  She ministered.  Listen:  That’s exactly what she should have done. She is doing what she’s doing in response to the healing.  You healed me?  I will serve You.  And it’s exactly what we ought to do as soon as we get saved. You died on the cross and saved me from sin and hell?  In response to that, I will serve you.
 
Now think about this.  In these three miracles we find a picture of our life with Christ:  With the leper, we find out how to approach Jesus.  We come with humble faith believing that He can and will heal us. 
 
From the centurion, we find out where we are headed.  God has made room in the kingdom for both Jews and Gentiles.
 
And from Peter’s mother-in-law we learn how to live in the meantime, in humble, appreciative service to the One Who has brought us healing.
 
Let's pray.

 

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