Scripture Commentary — Matthew 8:1-34
Matthew 8:1-34 — A most remarkable day in the life of Jesus
- During the first part of this remarkable day of diligence and service, Jesus taught a large multitude the Sermon on the Mount. Imagine how spiritually draining this must have been. This is one of the most remarkable sermons ever delivered, and the spiritual preparation and spiritual demand of delivering this sermon cannot be fully appreciated.
- As Jesus descends from the mount, He is followed by a great multitude, probably seeking His service in their behalf.
- Jesus is immediately approached by a leper, asking to be healed. Jesus could have said, “I am a bit drained spiritually after my long sermon. Could we talk another time?” No, the Savior always met the needs of those who approached Him, without reservation or hesitation.
- The leper refers to Jesus as “Lord”, showing great respect and deference.
- The leper worshiped Jesus, exhibiting his faith and conversion. “…if thou wilt…” displays great faith.
- To the leper, it was not a question of CAN you perform this miracle, but WILL you?
- Without further comment, Jesus touches him and immediately heals him of his leprosy. This incredible healing immediately following a taxing and draining experience on the Mount. When a need presented itself, Jesus served.
- Jesus is still obedient to the Law of Moses under which the people were currently living. The man is instructed to present himself to the priest, adding that the healing will be a “testimony to them”, meaning the Jewish hierarchy.
- Jesus instructs the man to tell no one of the healing, exhibiting great humility and dignity.
- As soon as Jesus walks into Capernaum, another believer requests a healing. A centurion, who was a Roman that commanded a group of 100 soldiers, asks Jesus to heal his servant, who is afflicted with palsy or paralysis. Without further discussion, Jesus agrees to come to the home and heal the servant. Jesus, always ready to serve, responded to all, even a Roman captain. There is no mention of the demanding spiritual service Jesus had just rendered to others.
- The centurion displays great humility by telling the Lord, “I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof…”, and he displays even greater faith by saying, “…speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.”
- Jesus acknowledges this man’s great faith, and with His infinite power, heals the servant who is in some other location far removed from where Jesus was. The command, the power, the sensitivity, the majesty to perform this ‘sight unseen’ healing surpasses explanation. We must remember that this spiritual exertion came on the heels of the Sermon on the Mount, and the healing of the leper.
- I have tried to imagine the reunion of the centurion and his servant. Imagine the centurion trying to describe to the servant what had transpired in Christ’s presence. Tears and expressions of gratitude probably flowed freely. And where is Christ? On to His next opportunity to bless and lift.
- Now, upon entering the home of his apostle, Peter, the Savior finds Peter’s mother-in-law “…laid, and sick of a fever.” No conversation is recorded between Jesus and this woman. Sensing her faith, He reaches out, touches her hand, and she is healed. She immediately feels well enough to arise and minister unto the Savior and those with Him.
- By this time on this eventful day, Jesus has preached the Sermon on the Mount, healed a leper, healed the centurion’s servant, and now healed a very ill woman. Surely this is all the spiritual energy that could be expected of a person in one day. A normal person, perhaps, but not our precious Savior. With strength and pure charity, He responds to every opportunity to bless, inspire, lift, and edify.
- More service was yet to be rendered. In the evening, his followers brought “many” that were possessed of evil spirits or ill in other ways, “…and he healed ALL that were sick.” By so doing He “took [their] infirmities and bore [their] sicknesses.” He Himself carried their loads, lifted their burdens, relieved their suffering. His selfless service stands as a majestic witness of His perfection. None other could have borne the weight of what He was asked to do.
- His day of unselfish service was not yet complete. Seeing the large crowd still assembled, Jesus instructed his apostles to board a ship and transport Him and themselves to the other side of the sea. Jesus, probably fatigued from His incredible day of service and charity, fell asleep. A great tempest arose, and the ship was essentially enveloped in waves. It should be remembered that several of His disciples were professional fishermen and had spent many hours on this very sea. They knew boating and sailing and the management of storms. This storm, however, even frightened these experience seamen, and they awoke the Savior, imploring Him thusly, “Lord, save us: we perish.” Always blessing, encouraging, and comforting, the Savior draws upon His infinite spiritual power and rebukes the waves, the wind, and the sea. What indescribable spiritual depth enabled Him to do that? The thought of it is overwhelming. Imagine these apostles, even seamen, as they watched the storm abate, the winds lessen, and the waves diminish. Is it any wonder that they exclaimed, “What manner of man is this, the even the winds and the sea obey him!” Exclamation points are not used very often in the King James Bible, but one is very appropriately used at the end of that statement! Amazingly, the disciples had just watched Him preach an incomparable sermon, heal a leper, heal a palsied servant, heal Peter’s mother-in-law, cast out evil spirits, and heal “many” that were ill, but it is the calming of the storm that causes them to exclaim, “What manner of man is this…?” How about us? Have we answered that question for ourselves? How do we describe Him? And how humbling is the statement by the Lord in 3 Nephi 27:27 wherein He asks us the question, “What manner of men ought ye to be? EVEN AS I AM.”
- After this trying day and night, the Savior’s next day of service began with an overwhelming challenge. There is no mention of fatigue, hesitancy, or resting. He simply moves forward, seeking the next opportunity to bless lives. Fresh off the ship, Jesus is confronted by the two men who are possessed of evil spirits, who live in a cemetery, and who terrorize the surrounding area. The Savior dispatches the evil spirits, heals and blesses these two souls. Can one imagine how these two men praised the loved the Savior for His healing touch? And yet the townspeople from the nearby city ordered Him to depart from their coasts.
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