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Matthew 8:14-17; Jesus Heals Many (Cross-Reference Comparisons)

posted by Mike Nappa

In Matthew 8:16-17, the gospel writer reports that Jesus “healed all the sick” in order to fulfill the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 53:4, which Matthew paraphrases as, “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.”

This is an odd Scriptural connection given the circumstances just described. There’s no indication here or anywhere in the Bible that the act of healing “all the sick” around him caused Jesus, in turn, to fall ill or to contract any disease. So what was Matthew talking about?

Most Bible commentators extrapolate this to be a reference to Christ’s upcoming redemptive work on the cross. “It is also important to remember,” says Lawrence Richards on this topic, “that the Jews, and Scripture itself, view all sickness as a consequence either directly or indirectly of sin … [Jesus’ healing] was a witness to his intent, through his suffering and death, to provide a salvation which will ultimately destroy all sickness.”

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It’s hard to disagree with Richards’ theology in the broad perspective, but the reasoning seems forced within the context of Matthew 8:17. The gospel writer here appears to be referring very specifically to the healing and exorcisms Jesus had just performed (referenced in Matthew 8:16)—not to the future healings that would result from his vicarious suffering and death. So, again, what was Matthew talking about?

New Testament scholar, A. Lukyn Williams, theorizes that perhaps Christ’s healing ministry did take some unseen toll on the Savior. In commentary on Matthew 8:16-17, he wrote:

The thought is far-reaching, and implies that he [Jesus] bore the ultimate cause of sickness, the sin of the world (John 1:29), and also that each miracle of healing meant for him a fresh realization of what bearing the sin of the world included. In other words, the passage in Isaiah, as interpreted by St. Matthew, refers not only to the Passion as such, but also to Christ’s suffering an earnest and a foretaste of it at each miracle. May not this have been in part the cause of his sigh at one miracle (Mark 7:34), and his deep emotion at another (John 11:33)? Observe that this may be the complementary side of his experience recorded in Mark 5:30 (parallel passage: Luke 8:46), that “power” went out of him. A miracle of healing, though performed in momentary unconsciousness of what was taking place, still necessitated personal contact with sin, which to Christ’s whole nature meant moral effort.

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It’s possible that both Richards and Williams are right in their interpretations of Matthew 8:16-17, that one is right and the other wrong, or that both are part right and part wrong.

What do you think?

 

Works Cited:

[NTL, 43; PC15, 326]

 

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About: For Bible Study Nerds™

About: Mike Nappa

Copyright © 2014 to present by Nappaland Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Matthew 8:14-17; Jesus Heals Many (Cultural Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

In both the Jewish and pagan cultures of Jesus’ time, exorcising demons was a strict ritual, fraught with risks.

Magical incantations (preserved for us today in some ancient texts) were used in many attempts at exorcism. Other efforts to expel demons included supposedly magical objects, special word formulas, and even invoking the name of a “favorable deity” (which, in some cases, might actually have been simply another demon). Ancients also assumed—with varying degrees of success—that if they could divine the name of a demon, that would give them control over the evil spirit and allow them to send it away.

As always, these kinds of approaches were hit-or-miss, risk-filled endeavors. Scripture even tells of a group of professional exorcists who tried to invoke the names of Jesus and the Apostle Paul to drive out a demon. The demon replied, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” Then the possessed man gave the would-be exorcists such a beating that they “ran out of the house naked and bleeding” (Acts 19:13-16).

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In stark contrast, Matthew reports that Jesus needed no magical incantations, wielded no supposedly-magical object, and made no appeal to any deity other than himself when brought face to face with demons. He made no attempt at any kind of ritualized exorcism. Instead, when people came to him for help, he simply expelled all demons effortlessly, with just a word of command. No spiritual force was able to resist his omnipotent grace toward those that were brought to him!

This would have been (and honestly, still is) a stunning display of power. It is no overstatement to read Matthew’s testimony of Christ in 8:16-17 and say, What a mighty God we serve!

 

Works Cited:

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[ZP2, 450-451]

 

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About: For Bible Study Nerds™

About: Mike Nappa

Copyright © 2014 to present by Nappaland Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Matthew 8:14-17; Jesus Heals Many (Historical Backgrounds)

posted by Mike Nappa

Matthew 8:14-15 is testimony (again) to Jesus’ divinity and compassion, but it also reveals important historical background about Christ’s foremost disciple, Simon Peter. It’s because of this Scripture (along with Mark 1:29-34, Luke 4:38-41, and 1 Corinthians 9:5) that we know with certainly Peter was married, and that he lived in a home in Capernaum as patriarch of his extended family (as was customary in ancient Israel).

So what do we know about Peter’s nameless wife?

Scripture tells us that she traveled with Peter on his preaching and teaching journeys (1 Corinthians 9:5), and that her mother lived in the house she shared with Peter and his brother Andrew’s family (Mark 1:29-34). Beyond that, we have the testimony of tradition which indicates that she was the daughter of Aristobulus, a co-worker of the Apostle Paul and brother to Paul’s first missionary partner, Barnabas. It’s also likely she was, at least in part, a role model in Peter’s mind when he wrote his now-famous advice on the character and conduct of husbands and wives in marriage (1 Peter 3:1-12).

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Tradition also tells us that she was imprisoned with Peter at the time of his martyrdom—and that she, in fact, was murdered just before he was. Perhaps that was intended by his captors as additional cruelty for Peter, to be forced to watch his wife painfully endure execution for her faith in Christ. Regardless, Bible historian Herbert Lockyear recalls the traditional stories of their final moments this way:

When death came, his [Peter’s] wife was martyr first, and as she was led out to die, Peter comforted her with the words, “Remember the Lord.” When Peter’s turn came he begged his crucifiers to crucify him head downward, feeling he was unworthy to die in exactly the same way as his Lord. In heaven, Peter and his loyal wife shine together as stars for having turned many to righteousness.

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Works Cited:

[AWB, 220; WWW, 38]

 

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About: For Bible Study Nerds™

About: Mike Nappa

Copyright © 2014 to present by Nappaland Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Matthew 8:5-13; The Faith of the Centurion (Theological Commentary)

posted by Mike Nappa

When Jesus healed the centurion’s servant, he did more than a miracle. He demonstrated for everyone something that the centurion had already recognized: Authority. More specifically, Jesus demonstrated that he possessed the absolute authority of God incarnate, the authority that only a Creator has over his creation.

Theologian Lawrence Richards explains this concept of God’s absolute authority by saying, “Here we see a reflection of Christ’s deity: Jesus demonstrated on earth that he had God’s own unrestricted freedom of action.” The healing of the centurion’s servant is just one of many proofs that this is true.

First, he demonstrated authority over time and space—what we call omnipresence—by healing the servant from miles away. Jesus, standing in Capernaum, didn’t have to find out where the servant lived and lay. He didn’t have to be physically present with the servant. He didn’t have to send a token of himself (such as his robe or a cloth) to the servant. He didn’t even speak a verbal command of healing. He simply made a promise to the centurion and—bam!—healing happened instantly in time, across miles of geographical space.

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Second, Christ demonstrated full, divine authority over the physical being of anyone and everyone. The servant’s body was paralyzed and in great pain. With only a thought, Jesus reversed the biological weaknesses in that randomly selected servant. He literally “made it all better,” restoring the servant to complete health as only a Creator can do.

Third, Jesus demonstrated divine authority over eternity and the ultimate fate of all humanity. Historians tell us that in Jesus’ time, particularly in the “stronghold of observant Judaism” of Capernaum, non-Jews (gentiles) were “generally viewed as enemies to be eliminated.” Jews looked toward a day of Messianic victory culminated by a great feast “with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven”—and in their minds, gentiles would be forcibly excluded from that eternal bliss. Not so, according to Jesus. Not only did Jesus respond to the gentile centurion’s request, he showered God’s favor on gentiles by performing a miracle in the centurion’s household. Then Christ followed up this miracle by stating clearly that multitudes of gentiles from all over the earth would be included in God’s eternal kingdom.

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Somebody say Amen!

 

Works Cited:

[RBD, 114; VGG, 55]

 

ΩΩΩ

About: For Bible Study Nerds™

About: Mike Nappa

Copyright © 2014 to present by Nappaland Communications Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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