and its response of Faith, cannot truly be separated by the Christian. Here we
see through Matthew’s eyes some examples of great faith.
Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. And a leper came
to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, "Lord, if You are willing, You
can make me clean." Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately
his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus *said to him, "See
that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the
offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
(Mat 8:1-4 NASB)
a comparison here between this leper and Martha, the sister of Lazarus, whom Jesus
raised from the dead. Martha knew that whatever He asked, the Father would
grant. This man knew that it would take only the will of Jesus. Do you
see the difference in their perceptions? Martha, who knew Jesus well, believes
that He is close to God. This man, who is a stranger, has concluded that God
need not be referred to – as the Christ was here. Martha sees Him being close
to God, and Jesus rebukes her faith for it. This man sees things more
you will” is the request, but the compassion of Jesus is greater than that.
The Son of God wills; the Son of Man touches. It is the human gesture of
concern; it is also a sign that the man is now ceremonially clean.
no one, he says. What? What do I say to the curious (“Say, aren’t you the guy
who…”)? What do I say to my family? (“You think my wife is going to take
silence for an answer?”) What do I say to the priest?
did Christ command this? The usual explanation is that it is not yet time for
this to come out. Christ can gather a big crowd without something like this.
Perhaps, though, it was the great humility of our Lord, who never sought His
own honor, but that of the Father. It may be that Christ knew that under the
Law of Moses the man would be obliged to make the offering,
and therefore gave him this command. It is a reminder to us, though: with
the gifts of God come the obedience of His children.
a picture of sin
need to see that leprosy, in the thinking of the time, would be regarded as a sign
of sin. The leper was required to stay outside the village; he was to warn off
anyone who came near with “Unclean, unclean.” We see it as a disease, they saw
it as Divine Judgment.
is no surprise then, that some form of ritual cleansing was involved. In the
ritual itself, the offering is described as a guilt offering, a sin offering
and most importantly atonement. The Law stops short of making leprosy itself a
sin – but you can see why they considered it God’s judgment.
is a curious picture in the law about this. In addition to the animal
sacrifice, the cleansed one was to bring (for the ritual) hyssop, some cedar
wood and a scarlet cord. Hindsight shows us the truth: the hyssop was used to
dispense blood in purification rituals – and also vinegar to Christ on the
Cross. It is the implement of purification. Cedar wood – very aromatic –
would become the wood used in the Temple. The scarlet cord would soon be the
sign of the sinner saved – as Rahab was at the battle of Jericho. Purification,
the house of God and a sinner saved. It is a powerful image.
when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, and
saying, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully
tormented." Jesus *said to him, "I will come
and heal him." But the centurion said, "Lord, I am not worthy
for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be
healed. "For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and
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."
Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled
and said to those who were following, "Truly I say
to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. "I say to you that many will come from east and west,
and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the
outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
And Jesus said to the centurion, "Go; it shall be
done for you as you have believed." And the servant was healed that
(Mat 8:5-13 NASB)
should be noted that Luke’s account differs significantly. It may be that
Luke’s account is simply filling in the blanks. It may also be that Luke is
actually portraying obsequiousness in the Jews – which Matthew, writing for the
Jews, left out as being gratuitously insulting.)
centurion is of remarkable faith for at least one reason. How much harder it
must have been in those days to believe when you are a Gentile, and by
definition cut off from the favor of God? But this does not deter him. We can
see how much the centurion respects the authority of Christ in two ways:
calls Him “Lord” – when the centurion is of the army which conquered this
does not bring the man with him. This is a matter of kindness to
the servant; it is also a sign of faith. This Jesus doesn’t need to touch
what we call faith is simply a trust in the authority of the God of the
is something unusual about Christ’s response in this. The man has simply
stated the problem; he does not ask (yet). As if in anticipation, he offers to
go to the man. It is unusual in that Christ usually waits to be asked.
Perhaps He simply wanted to make it easier for the Gentile.
response is a shock: I am not worthy.
you not heard what a great aid to conquering faith is found in the virtue of
is also a reply of a considerate man. A Jew entering a Gentile house
became ceremonially unclean.
comes the real shocker: I am a man under authority also.
It is not that the centurion recognizes the authority of Christ – it is that he
recognizes the obedience to authority in Christ. He lives under authority
every day; he recognizes another such under the authority of God. If you are
to please God, you must believe that He exists, and rewards those who seek Him.
now turns to the crowd to teach them. It is stated that Jesus marveled at the
man. As Son of Man well He might. It is His desire to teach all who will
learn, and this lesson is worth the stop in the day. Here indeed is faith; the
confidence that God can act – and that He will.
faith is rightly placed. He acts with all speed, and the man is immediately
did not enter this man’s house. But He certainly lived in this man’s heart.
Thus shall He separate the sheep and the goats.
Jesus came into Peter's home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a
fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she got up and waited
on Him. When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed;
and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. This was to fulfill what was spoken through
Isaiah the prophet: "HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED AWAY OUR
(Mat 8:14-17 NASB)
passage excites much commentary because it contradicts the Roman Catholic view
of Peter as the first pope (who, by definition, is celibate)).
is almost unnoticed that Peter’s mother-in-law is in his home. See here the
ordinary righteousness of this man, Peter. He is a fisherman by trade, so the house
is rather small. That she happens to be ill this day is not the point; the
point is that Peter cares for her. It is an example for the rest of us.
also demonstrates another virtue. It appears they have been heading toward
Peter’s house all along. But there is no sense of Peter hurrying the Lord
along. If we look at Christ’s entry into the house, we can learn why.
you not see that His entry is accompanied by His humility? The ancient ones
considered hosting any traveler to be an honor, a sign of favor and wealth.
Christ and the Apostles enter with a sense of humility, then, as being the
recipients of hospitality.
heals the woman; He also does so that she immediately regains her strength.
She then turns to what she understands to be her task, her service.
the exact site of Peter’s house were truly known, it would be a shrine. It
would be a shrine because Christ went there, and Christ healed there. Would we
respond in like fashion if he enters the heart? Consider just what her
is “saved to serve.” It is humble service, but service to God
waited on Him. Her service has one object: Jesus, the Christ.
the servant King replies in kind: He serves us, bearing our burdens.
pictures are simple and easy to understand. They point to one thing: the
authority of Christ. The leper is given to beg and then obey. The centurion
is given faith and then act upon it. Peter’s mother-in-law is given healing,
and she rises, saved to serve.
might then well ask: just what is my response to the authority of the Living