Matthew 8-9

Thursday Evening Bible Study

November 2, 2006


The last couple of weeks we’ve been looking at the first big recorded message of Jesus, the “Sermon on the Mount”

Matthew 8

:1-4 Leper cleansed

:1 When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.

:2 And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."

worshipedproskuneo – to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence; among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence; in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication

If You are willing – the leper realizes that it only depends upon Jesus’ willingness to heal for him to be healed.

:3 Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.


Touching the unclean

Here was this fellow with a disease that kept people from touching him. His disease made him an outcast. He was not supposed to live in town with everyone else. He had to cry “unclean” as he walked down the road.
And Jesus touches him.

You may relate a bit to the leper. You may feel “unclean” at times. Jesus is not afraid to touch you.

We ought to consider the example of Jesus. Are we willing to “touch” the unclean person? Are we willing to hang out with the “uncool” person?

:4 And Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."



Why does Jesus tell the man not to tell anyone?
It might be that Jesus doesn’t want to draw more attention to Himself than He already has.
It might be that Jesus is simply trying to point the man towards showing the priests. There’s something bigger that needs to happen for this man than just putting Jesus on the front page of the local newspaper.

There was a strange set of Levitical laws concerning leprosy. In those days leprosy was considered an incurable disease, and yet Moses devoted an entire couple of chapters describing the various forms of this thing they called leprosy as well as what to do when a person is “cleansed”.

There was an entire ritual involving birds, water, blood, wood, scarlet string, hyssop, and oil (Lev. 14).

I think the reason for the priestly ritual was three-fold:

1. It was a testimony to the priests that God was on the move – only God could heal something like leprosy.

Even religious people like priests need to see God at work.

2. It was a picture of Jesus. The gospel is found in this ritual as one bird dies and sheds it’s blood for another bird. The cedar wood speaks of the cross. The oil speaks of a person being touched by the Holy Spirit after their cleansing.

3. It was a process of restoration. When a person is “cleansed”, there is a sense in which there ought to be some sort of restoration into society. Before being healed, a leper was an outcast. But once a leper was cleansed and went through this ritual, they could move back home, they could integrate back into society. The church ought to be a place of restoration, where people can find healing and restoration. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that we keep each other at arm’s length, as though we were still “unclean”.

:5-13 The Centurion’s Servant

:5 Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him,

Capernaum was Jesus’ “home base”, a small city on the coast of the Sea of Galilee.

centurion – a Roman soldier, a Gentile, but not just a foot soldier, this was an officer who commanded anywhere from 50 to 100 men, something similar to our captain.

:6 saying, "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented."

:7 And Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him."

:8 The centurion answered and said, "Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.

:9 "For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and to another, 'Come,' and he comes; and to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."

Being in the army, the centurion understands the authority of a command.

He’s had plenty of commands that his superior officers have given him, and he’s followed them.

He’s given his share of commands to those under his authority.

All Jesus needs to do is to issue the command, and this man knows it will be done.

:10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, "Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!

The centurion is willing to trust that all Jesus needs to do is to speak the word, and the servant will be healed.

The Jews were known as a people who “wanted a sign” (1Cor. 1:22) before they would believe. This man was willing to believe without having seen anything – that’s true faith.

:11 "And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.

Heaven won’t just be filled with Jewish people, but Gentiles will be in heaven as well.

:12 "But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

In other words, some of the Jewish people, the “sons of the kingdom” would not be trusting in Jesus.

:13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you." And his servant was healed that same hour.

I wonder how many things in our lives are done to us according to the measure of our faith.


Long Distance Prayer

Note: Jesus’ power and the effectiveness of our prayers are not limited to locality. You do not have to be physically touching someone for God to answer your prayers. Right now as we would pray in Fullerton, God can touch the church in Kirov, Russia (so let’s pray!)
This is not because our prayers are so special. It’s because God hears our prayers and God answers prayer. God is the special one.

:14-15 Peter’s mother-in-law

Usually the term “mother-in-law” makes us think up jokes … like …


A newlywed farmer and his wife were visited by her mother, who immediately demanded an inspection of the place. The Farmer had genuinely tried to be friendly to his new mother-in-law, hoping that it could be a friendly, non-antagonistic relationship. To no avail, she kept nagging them at every opportunity, demanding changes, offering unwanted advice and making life unbearable to the farmer and his new bride. While they were walking through the barn, the farmer’s mule suddenly reared up and kicked the mother-in-law in the head, killing her instantly. At the funeral service a few days later, the farmer stood near the casket and greeted folks as they walked by. The pastor noticed that whenever a woman would whisper something to the farmer, he would nod his head yes and say something. Whenever a man walked by and whispered to the farmer, however, he would shake his head, no and mumble a reply. Very curious as to this bizarre behavior, the pastor later asked the farmer what that was all about. The farmer replied, “The women would say, ‘What a terrible tragedy’ and I would nod my head and say, ‘Yes, it was.’ The men would ask, ‘Can I borrow that mule?’ and I would shake my head and say, ‘Can’t. It’s all booked up for a year.’

In the Catholic church, priests and popes aren’t married. But the “first pope”, Peter, was married. Peter didn’t bring the mule to see his mother-in-law. He brought Jesus.

:14 Now when Jesus had come into Peter's house, He saw his wife's mother lying sick with a fever.

:15 So He touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and served them.


Healed to serve

That’s what Jesus does in our lives too – we are healed so we can serve Him.
Don’t think of “serving” as being the lowliest place in church. It’s the greatest place. It’s our goal as Christians to become servants, not bosses.

(Mark 9:35 NKJV) And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all."

The church’s mission:

Win the Lost – the church needs to be a witness about Jesus’ love.

Equip the Saints – when a person comes to know the Lord, they become a “saint”, one who is holy and set apart for God’s use. Uur responsibility as a church is to help them mature, to teach them how to walk with the Lord.

Send the Servants – I don’t see the goal of the church as making “saints” who just sit in the pew on Sunday. Our goal is to help us all grow up to be servants. The more mature you are in the Lord, the greater the servant you are to be. Our goal as a church is to help the servants find their place to serve, either by ministering to folks at church, or in reaching out to the lost world.

F.B.Meyer: “I used to think that God’s gifts were on shelves stacked one higher than the next, and the higher you got, the more gifts you got. Then I found out that they were really on shelves one lower than the next, and the lower you became, the more you received.”
Maturity is measured by a servant’s heart.

:16-17 Many healed

:16 When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick,

:17 that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: "He Himself took our infirmities And bore our sicknesses."

(Isa 53:4 KJV) Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

:18-22 Following Jesus isn’t easy

:18 And when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side.

For some reason Jesus didn’t want to hang around with the crowd. It was time to move on.

:19 Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go."

This sounds like a great offer if you’re trying to build a movement. A scribe was a religious man, one who was an expert in the Scriptures. Who wouldn’t want this fellow along for the ride? But Jesus doesn’t just sign the guy up – He gives him a bit of a reality check.

:20 And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."

He might say to Americans today, “Follow me but don’t expect a 401k”. He’s not promising an easy life for the person that follows Jesus.

The “Entitlement” mentality – we want to know what we’re going to get out of following Jesus. We’re entitled.

You can expect a hard life filled with uncertainties.

I’ve heard George Bryson share that when some people go on a mission trip with him to Russia, they complain that they’re not being put up in a four-star hotel. Jesus didn’t promise a hotel.

:21 Then another of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father."

:22 But Jesus said to him, "Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead."

The situation is not that the fellow’s dad has just died and they’re waiting for the funeral. The idea is that he wants to go home and be the good son and take care of things while dad gets older and older and wait until the day that his father dies before he follows Jesus.

Be careful about letting other people become your excuse to not follow Jesus.


More than family

Please don’t misunderstand this – your family is important to God.
But God doesn’t want your family being more important than He is in your life.
(Mat 10:37 NKJV) "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

This doesn’t mean that you neglect your family so you can be at church every night of the week.

But if your family is your constant excuse as to why you can’t do anything, even having a devotional time in the morning, then your priorities are upside down.

Put God first and the rest will fall into place.

:23-27 Calming the Storm

:23 Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him.

:24 And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep.

Apparently it is not uncommon for sudden storms to hit the Sea of Galilee due to the hills on the north coast of the lake.

The storm begins to sink the boat, but Jesus sleeps.

:25 Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!"

:26 But He said to them, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?" Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.

Some have suggested that the disciples lacked faith because they didn’t rebuke the winds and the sea.

I think they lacked faith because they didn’t believe that they’d be safe with Jesus being asleep.

Is Jesus in the boat or not? Is Jesus going to let the boat sink? I don’t think so.

:27 So the men marveled, saying, "Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?"


Trusting in the storm

What do you do in the storm? Can you tell the storm to stop?

In the years 1014-1035 there ruled over England a Danish king named Canute. King Canute tired of hearing his retainers flatter him with extravagant praises of his greatness, power and invincibility. He ordered his chair to be set down on the seashore, where he commanded the waves not to come in and wet him. No matter how forcefully he ordered the tide not to come in, however, his order was not obeyed. Soon the waves lapped around his chair. One historian tells us that, therefore, he never wore his crown again, but hung it on a statue of the crucified Christ.

Who is in the boat with you?
Is Jesus in the boat of your life? Can He really do something about your situation?

Keep in mind, the problem wasn’t that the disciples asked Jesus for help. The problem was in their attitude when they asked him.

The story is told of a small town in which there were no liquor stores. Eventually, however, a nightclub was built right on Main Street. Members of one of the churches in the area were so disturbed that they conducted several all night prayer meetings, and asked the Lord to burn down that den of iniquity. Lightning struck the tavern a short time later, and it was completely destroyed by fire. The owner, knowing how the church people had prayed, sued them for the damages. His attorney claimed that their prayers had caused the loss. The congregation, on the other hand, hired a lawyer and fought the charges. After much deliberation the judge declared, “It’s the opinion of the court that wherever the guilt may lie, the tavern keeper is the one who really believes in prayer while the church members do not!”
Is Jesus big enough to handle your storm?
Isaiah wrote,
(Isa 12:2 NKJV) Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid;

This was D.L. Moody’s favorite verse.

He used to say, “You can travel to Heaven first-class or second-class. First-class is, ‘I will trust and not be afraid.’ Second-class is, ‘when I am afraid, I will trust in thee.’”

:28-34 Demon Pigs

:28 When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way.

Gergesenes – also known as “Gadara”, this area was on the eastern side of the Jordan, just south of the Sea of Galilee.

:29 And suddenly they cried out, saying, "What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?"

The demons knew who Jesus was.

(James 2:19 NKJV) You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe; and tremble!

:30 Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding.

:31 So the demons begged Him, saying, "If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine."

Apparently some demons prefer to possess a warm body rather than floating around without a body (Mat. 12:43-45).

Note: They have to ask Jesus’ permission.

:32 And He said to them, "Go." So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water.

:33 Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men.

those who kept them – These weren't wild pigs, they were domesticated pigs.

This was against the Jewish law. Pigs were unclean animals.

In modern America, it would be as if Jesus cast the demons into a herd of horses who trampled the fields of marijuana that the people were growing.

:34 And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region.


God’s priorities

For these people, their “profit” was more important than the people who were possessed.
God’s priorities are different. People are more important than profit.

Matthew 9

:1-8 Paralyzed forgiven

:1 So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city.

Back to Capernaum.

:2 Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you."

Mark tells us that four friends were carrying the paralytic. It’s the faith of the friends that Jesus saw.

Jesus worked in this man’s life because his friends cared enough about him to bring him to Jesus.


Root issues

It’s interesting that Jesus’ response to these men had to do with forgiveness.
Perhaps Jesus knew something about the man that we don’t.
Jesus met the most important needs, not just the perceived needs.

:3 And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, "This Man blasphemes!"

They aren’t speaking out loud, they’re just thinking these things.

Mark records:

(Mark 2:7 NKJV) "Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

They think that only God can forgive sins. And they’re right. Jesus is God.

:4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts?


An open book

In the book of Ezekiel, Ezekiel has this vision of some of the wickedness going on in Jerusalem – a vision while he himself was in Babylon.
(Ezek 8:6-12 NKJV) Furthermore He said to me, "Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel commits here, to make Me go far away from My sanctuary? Now turn again, you will see greater abominations." {7} So He brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, there was a hole in the wall. {8} Then He said to me, "Son of man, dig into the wall"; and when I dug into the wall, there was a door. {9} And He said to me, "Go in, and see the wicked abominations which they are doing there." {10} So I went in and saw, and there; every sort of creeping thing, abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed all around on the walls. {11} And there stood before them seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, and in their midst stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan. Each man had a censer in his hand, and a thick cloud of incense went up. {12} Then He said to me, "Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the room of his idols? For they say, 'The LORD does not see us, the LORD has forsaken the land.'"

These men were getting themselves into bad stuff because they were convinced that God wasn’t watching them.

The truth is, God not only sees you, He not only hears you, He not only smells you, He can read your mind.

This is the issue of “truth”. Truth is what makes us grow up as Christians:
(Eph 4:15 NKJV) but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head; Christ;

I grow up when I start living more and more of my life out in the open, not hiding anything, or not lying about anything.

:5 "For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Arise and walk'?

:6 "But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins"; then He said to the paralytic, "Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house."

It’s easy to say “you’re forgiven”. Talk is cheap. But Jesus is going to show them that He’s not just a bunch of nice words but that He has the power to back up what He says.


Walk and talk

Sometimes the things we say don’t match our actions:

Sven was going for his morning walk one day when he walked past Ole’s house and saw a sign that said “Boat For Sale.” This confused Sven because he knew that Ole didn’t own a boat, so he finally decided to go in and ask Ole about it. “Hey Ole,” said Sven, “I noticed da sign in your yard dat says ‘Boat For Sale,’ but ya don’t even have a boat. All ya have is your old John Deere tractor and combine.” Ole replied “Yup, and they’re boat for sale.”

Does your walk match your talk?
We may not be able to perform miracles like Jesus, but we can do more than just say memorized little quotes about God.
We can live a life that is exactly like we say it is.

It’s one thing to say to the guy at work, “Jesus can set you free from your sin”. But those words can come with power when Jesus has set YOU free from YOUR sin.

The life we live should back the things we say.

:7 And he arose and departed to his house.

:8 Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.

:9-13 Friend of sinners

:9 As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me." So he arose and followed Him.

tax office – Matthew was an evil, hated man in his town. No one was hated more than the tax collectors. They were Jewish men who collected taxes for the evil Romans. They were allowed to take as much as they could from people, as long as they took the minimum tax, and then they kept the rest for themselves.

Luke records:

(Luke 5:28 NKJV) So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.

:10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples.

Mark tells us that the party being thrown was at Matthew’s house. (Mark 2:15)

Matthew has decided to follow Jesus, and the first thing he does is throw a party for his friends so they can meet Jesus.

:11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?"

:12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.

Jesus is calling the sinners the “sick” ones.

:13 "But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."

This is a quote from:

(Hosea 6:6 NKJV) For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.



Jesus is speaking to good upstanding Pharisee boys and girls. And they were not being very merciful towards the tax collectors and sinners. But they were proud of all the sacrifices they had made in life.
God would rather that we learn to have mercy.
Do you have people who rub you the wrong way?
Jesus wants us to “go and learn” what this means.


The Lost

Jesus hung out with sinners. He went to where they were.
Living in the midst of the church of God is like sailing down the Nile in a boat. One is charmed with the luxuriance of either bank, and with much that is beautiful immediately around; but alas! at a little distance on either side lies a vast uncultivated, almost hopeless, desert. Some are at rest because they never look beyond the borders of the church, but those whose sympathies reach to all humanity will have to carry a lifelong “burden of the Lord.”

-- Charles Haddon Spurgeon

:14-17 Question on fasting

:14 Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?"

:15 And Jesus said to them, "Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.

A wedding feast is a time for eating, not fasting. Jesus was the bridegroom, so the party was on!

:16 "No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse.

If you make a patch out of unshrunk cloth, when you wash the garment, the patch will shrink and tear the garment.

:17 "Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."

Wine was stored and fermented in bladders made of leather. If the bladder was old, the leather was rigid. As wine ferments, gas is given off and eventually an old wineskin would explode.


Be open to new things.

The disciples of John couldn’t understand why Jesus’ disciples acted differently than them. Jesus’ disciples were breaking the traditions they had learned from John. How dare they.
Sometimes we’re like the old garment or the old wineskin. We aren’t very flexible. When God wants to do a new thing, we balk at it because we’ve never done it that way before.
(Isa 43:19 NKJV) Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.