Matthew 8 Commentary

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Charts from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission
Another Chart from Charles Swindoll

BY MATTHEW (shaded area)

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Matthew 8:1 When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him.

NET  After he came down from the mountain, large crowds followed him.

GNT  Καταβάντος δὲ αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ τοῦ ὄρους ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῷ ὄχλοι πολλοί.

NLT  Large crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside.

KJV  When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.

ESV  When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him.

NIV  When he came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him.

  • came - Mt 5:1 
  • large - Mt 8:18 4:25 12:15 15:30 19:2 20:29 Mk 3:7 Lu 5:15 14:25-27 

John MacArthur's Outline of Matthew 8-15

  1. The King's Divine Authority—Attesting Miracles (Matthew 8-9)
  2. The King's Apostles—Their Commissioning (Matthew 10)
  3. The King's Audience—Their Responses (Matthew 11-12)
  4. The King's Announcement—The Mystery of His Church/Parables of the Kingdom (Matthew 13)
  5. The King's Audience—More Responses and Miracles (Matthew 14-15) (MacArthur New Testament Commentary, – Matthew)

John Hannah has a more detailed outline of Jesus' Ministry in this section:

The proofs of the King's claims  (8:1-11:1)

  1. Authority over sickness  (Mt 8:1-17)
    1. The leper  (Mt 8:1-4)
    2. The paralytic  (Mt 8:5-13)
    3. The fever  (Mt 8:14-15)
    4. Summary:  all diseases  (Mt 8:16-17)
  2. Authority over men  (Mt 8:18-22)
  3. Authority over nature  (Mt 8:23-27)
  4. Authority over demons  (Mt 8:28-34)
  5. Authority to forgive sin  (Mt 9:1-8)
  6. Authority over men  (Mt 9:9)
  7. Authority to meet spiritual needs  (Mt 9:10-13)
  8. Authority over tradition  (Mt 9:14-17)
  9. Authority over death  (Mt 9:18-26)
  10. Authority over blindness  (Mt 9:27-31)
  11. Authority over speechlessness  (Mt 9:32-34)
  12. Authority to command men  (Mt 9:35-11:1)
    1. The King's compassion  (Mt 9:35-38)
    2. The King's summons  (Mt 10:1-4)
      1. The delegation of authority  (Mt 10:1)
      2. The list of apostles  (Mt 10:2-4)
    3. The King's instructions  (Mt 10:5-11:1)
      1. The direction of their ministry  (Mt 10:5-14)
        1. Recipients of their ministry  (Mt 10:5-6)
        2. Message of their ministry  (Mt 10:7)
        3. Indication of their ministry  (Mt 10:8)
        4. Support in the ministry  (Mt 10:9-10)
        5. Treatment in the ministry  (Mt 10:11-14)
      2. The danger in the ministry  (Mt 10:15-23)
      3. The comfort in the ministry  (Mt 10:24-33)
      4. The priorities of the ministry  (Mt 10:34-39)
      5. The rewards of the ministry  (Mt 10:40-11:1)

The opposition to the King  (Mt 11:2-16:12) (from Hannah's Bible Outlines - excellent resource)

Notice in the chart above by Irving Jensen that he classifies the section from Matthew 4:12 through Matthew 15:21 as Jesus' time of popularity which was beginning to decline. 

Thomas Constable introduces Matthew 8-9 - Matthew described Jesus' ministry as consisting of teaching, preaching, and healing in Mt 4:23. Chapters 5-7 record what He taught His disciples. We have the essence of His preaching ministry in Mt 4:17. Now in Mt 8:1-9:34 we see His healing ministry. He demonstrated authority over disease, demons, and nature. Matthew showed that Jesus' ability proves that He is the divine Messiah. The King authenticated His claims by performing messianic signs. In view of this the Jews should have acknowledged Him as the Messiah. (Expository Notes)

J Vernon McGeeMatthew is not attempting to give us a biography of the Lord Jesus, nor is he attempting to put in chronological order the series of events that took place in His ministry. Rather, he is giving us a movement, which we must not miss. The King went to the mountain, enunciated His manifesto, the law of the Kingdom; now He comes down from the mount, and we see twelve miracles (some say 10, some 9) that He performs. This demonstrates that when He rules on this earth, He will have the dynamic to enforce the laws of His Kingdom. (Thru The Bible)

Louis Barbieri adds that this next section gives the "Credentials of the King (Mt 8:1-11:1). By word and deed Jesus Christ had authenticated Himself as the Messiah (Matthew 3-4). In a long sermon He announced the standards for entrance into His kingdom and clearly presented the way of access to it (Matthew 5-7). But the Jews still had questions on their minds. Could this One be the Messiah? If so, could He bring about the changes necessary to institute the kingdom? Did He have the power to bring about change? Matthew therefore presented a number of miracles to authenticate the King to Israel and to prove that He is able to perform His Word. These miracles demonstrated various realms in which Christ has authority. (Bible Knowledge Commentary)

When Jesus came down from the mountain - Matthew is simply picking up and reversing Jesus' direction from Matthew 5:1 "When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him."  There is almost an ironic twist in this statement that Jesus came down, because during this next phase of His ministry, while He still had a degree of popularity, Jesus popularity would progressively continue to come down! 

Large crowds followed Him - The word followed is akoloutheo, the same verb used in Mt 4:20, 22+ of His first disciples leaving their occupations and their relatives and following Him. In Mt 4:25 "large crowds followed (akoloutheo) Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan (east of the Jordan River)." But sadly they were following Him because of His miracles more that because of His message!

Israel had been introduced to the Person of the King in Matthew 1-4, the principles of the King in Matthew 5-7 and now would witness the power of the King beginning in Matthew 8. Matthew 8-9 record 10 miracles (some say 9) by Jesus to authenticate His "royal power," "the first group of miracles involves healings (Mt 8:1-17), the second, demonstrations of power (Mt 8:23-9:8), and the third, acts of restoration (Mt 9:18-34)." (Constable). Why did He do miracles or signs? Because as Paul would later write "indeed Jews ask for signs." (1 Cor 1:22) But remember that signs by themselves are not proof that Jesus is the long expected Messiah because as Paul says (in describing the Antichrist) "the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders." (2 Th 2:9). Sadly even the signs by Jesus were not enough to convince most of the populace that He was the Messiah. For example even after He had performed five of these miracles at Capernaum (not to mention all the healings and casting out of demons - Mark 1:33-34+ where "whole city" = Capernaum, Lk 4:40-41+), the city still rejected Him, Jesus Himself declaring "And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day." (Mt. 11:23). As Warren Wiersbe explains "Like the judgments against Egypt in Moses’ day, the miracles of the Lord were judgments in Israel; for the people had to face facts and make decisions. The religious leaders decided that Jesus was working for Satan (Mt. 9:31–34; 12:24)." (BEC)

Also keep in mind that these miracles recorded in Matthew 8-9 are not in chronological order. Hendriksen writes "Matthew's arrangement, accordingly, is topical rather than chronological. Room must be left for the possibility that while Mt 8:2-4; 8:14-17; and Mt 9:2-13 refer to events that preceded the Sermon on the Mount, Mt 8:5-13; Mt 8:18-19ff; and Mt 9:14ff. record what happened afterward. (Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew)

Matthew 8:2  And (behold) a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean."

NET  And a leper approached, and bowed low before him, saying, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."

GNT  καὶ ἰδοὺ λεπρὸς προσελθὼν προσεκύνει αὐτῷ λέγων, Κύριε, ἐὰν θέλῃς δύνασαί με καθαρίσαι.

NLT  Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. "Lord," the man said, "if you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean."

KJV   And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

ESV  And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean."

NIV   A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."

  • behold - Mk 1:40-45 Lu 5:12-16
  • a leper - Mt 10:8 26:6 Lev 13:44-46 Nu 5:2,3 12:10 De 24:8,9 2Sa 3:39 2Ki 5:1,27 7:3,4 15:5 2Ch 26:19-21 Lu 4:27 17:12-19 
  • bowed down - Mt 2:11 4:9 14:33 15:25 18:26 28:9,17 Mk 1:40 5:6,7 Lu 5:12 Joh 9:38 1Co 14:25 Rev 19:10 22:8,9 
  • if you are willing - Mt 9:28,29 13:58 Mk 9:22-24 


Pastor Brian Bell entitled his sermon on this section "SEE SPOT RUN!"

Warren Wiersbe entitles Matthew 8:1-22 "Grace to the Outcasts" noting that "Lepers, Gentiles, and women were considered outcasts by many Jewish people, especially the Pharisees. Many Pharisees would pray each morning, "I give thanks that I am a man and not a woman, a Jew and not a Gentile, a freeman and not a slave." (Bible Exposition Commentary)

McGee He was up in Capernaum, where his headquarters were. And I am confident that the following miracle occurred there. Of course, this raises the question of where He had been when He gave the Sermon on the Mount. I have read many different theories, but l do not think the location is important for us to know. We are told that when He came down from the mountain, great crowds followed Him. Is the King who is able to enunciate the ethic also able to move with power among humanity? That is an important question. (Thru The Bible)

And (behold) - The 1995 revision of the NASB for some reason fails to translate the demonstrative particle idou which is actually included in the 1977 version of the NASB. In my opinion that his too bad because behold is first of all a command in the aorist imperative emphasizing "Do it now! Don't delay!"As Spurgeon reminds us "Behold is a word of wonder; it is intended to excite admiration. Wherever you see it hung out in Scripture, it is like an ancient sign-board, signifying that there are rich wares within, or like the hands which solid readers have observed in the margin of the older Puritanic books, drawing attention to something particularly worthy of observation." I would add, behold is like a divine highlighter, a divine underlining of an especially striking or important text. It says in effect "Listen up, all ye who would be wise in the ways of Jehovah!"

Parallel Passages

Mark 1:40+ And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”

Luke 5:12+ While He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man covered with leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”

A leper came to Him  - First note that in Jesus' day leprosy was not necessarily the same disease we call leprosy today (see Hansen's Disease). In other words while it included true medical leprosy, people were still regarded as leprous if they a number of skin conditions including psoriasis, elephantiasis, vitiligo (depigmentation of skin), etc. A leper was totally ostracized from society until he was declared cured. The verb came to is proserchomai which literally means to come or go to and so to approach, but it also has the figurative sense of drawing near to or coming before God (read Heb 4:16+, Heb 7:25+, Heb 11:6+, Heb 10:22+). This was the verb used to describe the Jews"who draw near" through their Temple sacrifices, coming through the Law rather than coming by grace (read Heb 10:1+). The leper probably did not understand what he was doing but in effect he was drawing near to the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace to help in the time of need (Heb 4:16+) for Jesus was God! And it is notable that in that regard, the leper calls Him "Lord" and "bowed down"!  McGee points out that "Jesus came from the heights (SERMON ON THE MOUNT) to the very depths. Leprosy, symbolic of sin in the Bible, was considered incurable; leprosy was the most loathsome disease." (Ibid)  

“As for the leper who has the infection, his clothes shall be torn, and the hair of his head shall be uncovered, and he shall cover his mustache and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ “He shall remain unclean all the days during which he has the infection; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.  (Lev 13:45–46+

THOUGHT - Jesus was surrounded by a large crowd and yet the "untouchable" one was able to draw near. None of the Gospel writers tell us but if he were acting according to Leviticus, then he was crying out "Unclean! Unclean!" which would quickly have cleared a path for him to draw near to Jesus!

Leper (3015)(lepros from lepo = to scale, peel or lepis = a scale as of a fish - see picture of scaly rash) originally meant scaly or scabby and then was used to describe one afflicted with leprosy. It was was used to refer to an uneven surface of any kind (e.g., a road), but usually denotes a leprous condition of the skin, a serious skin disorder secondary to various etiologies, not always infection with the Mycobacterium leprae (pix), the cause of Hansen's Disease. Leper - 9x - Matt. 8:2; Matt. 10:8; Matt. 11:5; Matt. 26:6; Mk. 1:40; Mk. 14:3; Lk. 4:27; Lk. 7:22; Lk. 17:12. Lepros in the Septuagint (Lxx) - Lev. 13:44; Lev. 13:45; Lev. 14:2; Lev. 14:3; Nu 5:2; 2 Sa 3:29; 2 Ki. 5:11; 2 Ki. 7:3; 2 Ki. 7:8; 2 Chr 26:20; 2 Chr. 26:21; 2 Chr. 26:23. 

William Barclay - “In Palestine there were two kinds of leprosy. There was one which was rather like a very bad skin disease, and it was the less serious of the two. There was the one in which the disease, starting from a small spot, ate away the flesh until the wretched sufferer was left with only the stump of a hand or a leg. It was literally a living death.” 

Hughes on lepers Lepers were typically beggars because there was no way they could support themselves. Sometimes their families deposited food in remote places. They customarily lived in bands—fellow outcasts (cf. 2 Kings 7:3; Luke 17:12). (Preaching the Word – Luke, Volume I: That You May Know the Truth)

Guzik on leprosy - The Jews thought two things about a leper: (1) you are the walking dead and (2) you deserve this because this is the punishment of God against you. Jewish custom said that you should not even greet a leper. Custom said you had to stay six feet (two meters) from a leper. If the wind blew toward a person from a leper, they had to keep 150 feet (45 meters) away. One Rabbi bragged that he would not even buy an egg on a street where he saw a leper, and another boasted that he threw rocks at lepers to keep them far from him. One other Rabbi didn’t even allow a leper to wash his face. The only thing more defiling than contact with a leper was contact with a dead body.  For these reasons leprosy was considered a picture of sin and its effects. It was a contagious, debilitating disease that corrupts its victim and makes him essentially dead while alive. Therefore society and religious people scorned lepers. Rabbis especially despised them (Enduring Word Bible Commentary)

Warren Wiersbe Leprosy is an illustration of sin (Isa. 1:5-6). The instructions given to the priests in Leviticus 13 help us understand the nature of sin: Sin is deeper than the skin (Lev. 13:3); it spreads (Lev. 13:8); it defiles and isolates (Lev. 13:45-46); and it is fit only for the fire (Lev. 13:52, 57). (BEC)

Draw Near (4334)(proserchomai from prós = facing + erchomai = come) means to come facing toward. To approach, come near, visit, figuratively to worship, draw near, go near to.

Why is this so strange that a leper drew near and that Jesus allowed him to do so? The Law of Moses recorded  “As for the leper who has the infection, his clothes shall be torn, and the hair of his head shall be uncovered, and he shall cover his mustache and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ “He shall remain unclean all the days during which he has the infection; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp. (Leviticus 13:45, 46+ cf Nu 5:2-4, 12:14, 15, 2 Ki 7:3) Guzik adds that "the leper came to Jesus by himself and despite many discouragements. He knew how terrible his problem was. He knew most everyone thought his condition was hopeless. He had no one who would or could take him to Jesus. He had no previous example of Jesus healing a leper to give him hope. He had no promise that Jesus would heal him. He had no invitation from Jesus or the disciples. He must have felt ashamed and alone in the crowd. (Enduring Word Bible Commentary)

Comment: A person with leprosy, apart from the telltale malignant raw flesh and white hair, was to be otherwise identified by tom clothes, announcement of "unclean" when in the streets and was to live isolated from the community. Jesus knew the Law of Moses and yet He does not chastise this man for (1) approaching Him (recall the 10 lepers "stood at a distance" - Lk 17:12) and (2) not crying out "Unclean! Unclean!" Jesus saw the man's heart and his intent, not his scaly disgusting rash! And Jesus looks at you and I that same way -- at our heart, always looking for a heart of loving obedience (empowered by the Spirit) (cf 1 Sa 15:22).

The law of Moses had specific instructions for anyone who had leprosy:

Leviticus 13:45, 46+ (cf Nu 5:2-4, 12:14, 15, 2 Ki 7:3) “As for the leper who has the infection, his clothes shall be torn, and the hair of his head shall be uncovered (let his hair be unkempt,uncombed), and he shall cover his mustache and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!’ “He shall remain unclean all the days during which he has the infection; he is unclean. He shall live alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp. 

Comment: A person with leprosy, apart from the telltale malignant raw flesh and white hair, was to be otherwise identified by tom clothes, announcement of "unclean" when in the streets and was to live isolated from the community. Jesus knew the Law of Moses and yet He does not chastise this man for (1) approaching Him (recall the 10 lepers "stood at a distance" - Lk 17:12) and (2) for not crying out "Unclean! Unclean!" Jesus saw the man's heart and his intent, not his scaly disgusting rash! And Jesus looks at you and I that same way -- at our heart, ever looking for a heart of Spirit empowered loving obedience (cf 1 Sa 15:22).

NET Note - Tearing one's clothing, allowing the hair to hang loose rather than bound up in a turban, and covering the mustache on the upper lip are all ways of expressing shame, grief, or distress (cf., e.g., Lev 10:6 and Micah 3:7). 

Hughes adds "We can hardly imagine the humiliation and isolation of this leper's life. He was ostracized from society because it was thought at that time that leprosy was highly contagious (which it is not). He had to assume a disheveled appearance and cry, "Unclean! Unclean!" whenever he came in range of the normal population. Think about how you would feel shouting this while entering a grocery store or a mall—the pervasive sense of worthlessness and despair." (Preaching the Word)

And bowed down (NAS marginal note "worshiped") before Him - Mark 1:40+ has falling on his knees before Him. Luke 5:12+ has he fell on his face. He was now face to face with Jesus or more accurately "face to foot!" This is fascinating. An unclean person (1) approaching Jesus and (2) kneeling down, falling on his face, bowing down, where the verb translated bowing down is translated elsewhere worship some 49 times! The first use of proskuneo in the NT is of the magi who asking King Herod "Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship (proskuneo) Him.” (Mt 2:2+, cf the magi in Mt 2:8, 11+)

Bowed down (4352)(proskuneo from pros = before + kuneo = kiss or adore) means to prostrate oneself in homage before another in the full sense of worship, not mere reverence or courtesy. When Jesus Christ was born into this world, He was attended and worshipped by angels. (Lu 2:13f). This is the very verb Satan used in his temptation of Jesus promising “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship (proskuneo) me.” (Mt 4:9+) Jesus replied “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP (proskuneo) THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’” (Mt 4:10+).  Proskuneo represents the most common Near Eastern act of adoration and reverence and also carries the idea of profound awe and respect, attitudes that this leper definitely manifests. Some believe that the root word kuneo may be related to kuon which is the Greek word for dog and which then could be picturing a dog licking his master's hand. In summary, the word proskuneo literally means to kiss toward someone, to throw a kiss in token of respect or homage, to prostrate oneself in homage, to do reverence to, to adore and so to worship and show respect. In the ancient Oriental (especially Persia) the mode of salutation between persons of equal rank was to kiss each other on the lips. When the difference of rank was slight, they kissed each other on the cheek. When one was much inferior, he fell upon his knees touched his forehead to the ground or prostrated himself, and as he was bowing down he would be throwing kisses toward the superior. It is this latter mode of salutation that is intended by the Greek writers in the use of the verb proskuneo and this was the posture taken by this unclean leper!

And said, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." - Said is in the present tense indicating that he repeated this statement. And don't miss this "poignant picture—the leper, still prostrate, repeating in the hoarse voice typical of those with advanced leprosy." (Hughes) The same phrase is used also by Mark and Luke, also voiced from a position of humility and neediness. He was a perfect picture of Matthew 5:3+ "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." The leper knew Jesus could cleanse, but his question was would He cleanse? Obviously the leper recognized there was something about Jesus because he called Him ''kurios'', the first place He is called Lord in the Gospel of Matthew. And remember that this was the Greek word used to translated the Hebrew word Jehovah or Yahweh in the Old Testament. So the Jews who heard him address Jesus this way would surely have wondered about this association. While kurios could also mean something like our respectable "Sir," it is almost certain the leper meant it as more than "Sir," for not only did he call Jesus Lord but he approached Him as Lord. As Spurgeon said "Those who call Jesus ‘Lord,’ and do not worship Him, are more diseased than the leper was.”  I One can only imagine what those in the large crowd were thinking. Here is an unclean person approaching Jesus. What would He do? If He is the Messiah (they might reason), surely He would tell this "unclean" one to leave His presence! But of course the crowd the not comprehend His divine compassion for humanity. The phrase "if you are willing" is a third class condition which indicates the leper was not making presumptuous request for Jesus to heal him. In other words the third class is something that is undetermined, but which has the prospect of being determined, and thus was a hopeful doubt (so to speak) for this leper. Robertson adds "The leper knew that Jesus had the power to heal him. His doubt was about his willingness. "Men more easily believe in miraculous power than in miraculous love" (Bruce)." The leper's manner of approach expresses his humility instead of a prideful "You have the power, so heal me!"

Kent Hughes on the leper's addressing Jesus as Lord notice the first word out of his mouth, “Lord.” You can call Jesus “Lord” without having saving faith in him. Jesus teaches that at the end of the Sermon on the Mount. However, consistently throughout Matthew’s Gospel this title is only found on the lips of Jesus’ disciples or those who, like this leper, are sick and in desperate need of him. (Preaching the Word – Matthew: All Authority in Heaven and on Earth)

THOUGHT - The leper illustrates the words of Jesus' half brother James that "GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” (James 4:6+) Oh, to have the humble heart of this leper as we approach (draw near = same verb  proserchomai used of leper drawing near to Jesus) the throne of grace (Heb 4:16+), for even though we are saved by grace, we are daily prone to become "leprous" with the stain of sin (cf James 1:28b+), and thus we become unclean (in the experiential sense, although positionally we are clean forever in Christ) in the presence of the Holy One of Israel. This reminds me of God's call to Israel "Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil,  Learn to do good; Seek justice, Reprove the ruthless, Defend the orphan, Plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool." (Isaiah 1:16-18+) "If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses (katharizo in the present tense = continually because we continually have need!) us from all sin." (1 Jn 1:6-7+)

If you are willing - As described in verse 3, Jesus accepted the leper's challenge with the answer "I am willing." "I know You can, but will You?" That is, is it according to Your will?

Willing (2309)(thelo) primarily refers to exercising of one's will with the underlying sense of being willing, desiring or wanting to do something. Jesus desires to heal those who desire healing!

Holman Bible Commentary note on Leprosy - A generic term applied to a variety of skin disorders from psoriasis to true leprosy. Its symptoms ranged from white patches on the skin to running sores to the loss of digits on the fingers and toes. For the Hebrews it was a dreaded malady which rendered its victims ceremonially unclean—that is, unfit to worship God (Leviticus 13:3). Anyone who came in contact with a leper was also considered unclean. Therefore, lepers were isolated from the rest of the community so that the members of the community could maintain their status as worshipers. Other physical disorders or the flow of certain bodily fluids also rendered one unclean (see Leviticus 12:1-14:32; Leviticus 15:1-33). Even houses and garments could have “leprosy” and, thus, be unclean (Leviticus 14:33-57). Jesus did not consider this distinction between clean and unclean valid. A person's outward condition did not make one unclean; rather that which proceeds from the heart determines one's standing before God (Mark 7:1-23; compare Acts 10:9-16). Therefore, Jesus did not hesitate about touching lepers (Mark 1:40-45) and even commanded His disciples to cleanse lepers (Matthew 10:8). Jesus even made a leper the hero of one of His parables (Luke 16:19-31). (Leprosy)

R Kent HughesWhat is important to note is that leprosy, or Hansen's disease as it is better know today (after the man who diagnosed its cause), is not a rotting infection as is commonly thought, nor are its horrible outward physical deformities imposed by the disease (See picture). In recent years, the research of Dr. Paul Brand and others has proven that the disfigurement associated with Hansen's disease comes solely because the body's warning system of pain is destroyed. The disease acts as an anesthetic, bringing numbness to the extremities as well as to the ears, eyes, and nose. The devastation that follows comes from such incidents as reaching one's hand into a charcoal fire to retrieve a dropped potato, or washing one's face with scalding water, or gripping a tool so tightly that the hands become traumatized and eventually stumplike. In Third-World countries, vermin sometimes chew on sleeping lepers. Thus, Dr. Brand, after performing corrective surgery on a leper, would send a cat home with him as normal post-operative procedure. Dr. Brand calls the disease a "painless hell," and indeed it is. The poor man in our story had not been able to feel for years, and his body was full of leprosy, mutilated from head to foot, rotten, stinking, repulsive. (Preaching the Word – Mark, Volume I: Jesus, Servant and Savior.)

Barclay on Leprosy“Leprosy might begin with the loss of all sensation in some part of the body; the nerve trunks are affected; the muscles waste away; the tendons contract until the hands are like claws. There follows ulceration of the hands and feet. Then comes the progressive loss of fingers and toes, until in the end a whole hand or a whole foot may drop off. The duration of that kind of leprosy is anything from twenty to thirty years. It is a kind of terrible progressive death in which a man dies by inches....In the middle ages, if a man became a leper, the priest donned his stole and took his crucifix, and brought the man into the church, and read the burial service over him. For all human purposes the man was dead.”


Matthew 8:1–4

I. Who He Was. “A leper.” (1) Diseased, not sound; (2) Unclean, polluting; (3) Separated, shut out from fellowship and privilege; (4) Incurable, beyond all human skill and hope.
II. What He Did. (1) He came to Jesus, the fountain of living waters; (2) he came in the presence of the crowd, not ashamed; (3) he came worshipping Him, in deep, unfeigned reverence; (4) he came confessing his need, “Make me clean;” he acknowledged his real condition; (5) he came believing, “If Thou wilt, Thou canst.”
III. What He Received. (1) The touch of Jesus, identification; (2) The word of Jesus, illumination; (3) The power of Jesus, salvation. (James Smith - Handfuls of Purpose)

McGee paints the picture of what this leper's life must have been likeHave you ever stopped to think that this man not only had the physical disease of leprosy but that he had a psychological hang-up that was terrible? I do not know this man's background, but I imagine that one day he noticed a breaking out on his hand. Perhaps he had been out plowing, came in, showed his wife, and she put some ointment on it. The next morning it was just as red as it could be, and he went out and plowed again. This went on for about a week, and his wife started getting uneasy. She suggested he visit the priest. He went to the priest who isolated him for fourteen days. At the end of this period of time the disease had spread. The priest told him he had leprosy.

The man asked the priest if he could go and tell his wife and children and say good-bye. The priest said, "I'm sorry, you cannot tell them good-bye. You cannot put your arm around your wife again or hold your children in your arms anymore. When anyone comes near you, you must cry out, 'Unclean, unclean.'" He saw his children grow up from a distance. They would leave food in a certain place, and he would come and get it after they withdrew. He could not touch them. In fact, he had been able to touch no one, and no one had been able to touch him. Then one day he came to Jesus and said, "Lord, if You will, You can make me clean." And what did the Lord Jesus do? He touched him. May I say to you that the touch of Jesus was one of the most wonderful things that ever had happened to the man. It not only cleansed his leprosy, but it brought him back into the family of mankind and into the family of God. "Immediately his leprosy was cleansed." (Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee)

Fruchtenbaum expounds on the significance of leprosy in the Jewish community -  This is the account of the healing of a Jewish leper. How do we know he was Jewish? Because Jesus ordered him to go the the priests and observe the offerings that Moses commanded. Jesus had performed a number of miracles up until this time, but this is the FIRST instance of a Jew being healed of leprosy.   We need to realize that this sign was very special and unique. From the time of the giving of the Mosaic Covenant there is no record of any Jew being healed of leprosy. The case of Miriam was before the completion of the giving of the Law. In the case of Naaman, he was Syrian, not Jewish. Leviticus 13-14 are devoted to dealing with leprosy, more than 100 verses. The priesthood was given detailed and specific instructions regarding leprosy. Only the priest had the authority to declare someone a leper. Once someone was declared a leper he would tear his garment. He would have to move out of his or her community and into a quarantined area for lepers. While this sounds cruel, notice how the Law protected society from the spread of disease before anyone understood the nature of microbes and germs. He would be excluded from Jewish society, and reviled. He would have to wear a face covering below the eyes. He would never be able to enter the Tabernacle or Temple compound. He had to announce himself “unclean, unclean,” when encountering someone on the road. Anyone touching him would also become unclean. A person with leprosy was viewed as having been judged by God. (Life of Messiah)

Related Resources:

Matthew 8:3  Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

NET   He stretched out his hand and touched him saying, "I am willing. Be clean!" Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

GNT   καὶ ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα ἥψατο αὐτοῦ λέγων, Θέλω, καθαρίσθητι· καὶ εὐθέως ἐκαθαρίσθη αὐτοῦ ἡ λέπρα.

NLT   Jesus reached out and touched him. "I am willing," he said. "Be healed!" And instantly the leprosy disappeared.

KJV   And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

ESV   And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

NIV   Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cured of his leprosy.

  • Jesus stretched out His hand - 2 Ki 5:11 
  • I am willing - Ge 1:3 Ps 33:9 Mk 1:41 4:39 5:41 7:34 9:25 Lu 5:13 7:14 Joh 5:21 11:43 15:24 
  • immediately - Mt 11:4,5 2Ki 5:14 Lu 17:14,15 


Parallel Passages

Mark 1:41+ Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.”

Luke 5:13+ While He was in one of the cities, behold, there was a man covered with leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”

The cleansing or healing of leprosy involved religious, physiological, and sociological implications. Since leprosy was regarded as a defilement and hence made a person ritually unacceptable, it also meant excommunication from normal social life. The removal of leprosy was regarded as an important religious matter, and the healing had to be verified by the priests before an individual was regarded as ritually cleansed. 

Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him - The leper had come to Jesus imploring Jesus to help him and now Jesus reaches out His hand and touches him which must have sent a grasp and a "buzz" through the crowd of Jewish onlookers who would never even consider touching a leper! So don't miss the point that just one touch of a leper would have rendered Jesus ceremonially unclean (cf Lev 14:46; see also the  Mishnah, Nega'im 3.1; 11.1; 12.1; 13.6-12 where the word "Nega'im" describes the various forms of tzaraath, a leprosy-like disease described in the Parshiyot of Tazria and Metzora in the Torah, which affected people, clothing, and homes. The tractate describes the different types of blemishes symptomatic of the disease, and the various rituals involved in purifying someone who has been affected by it." (Wikipedia) According to Leviticus 5:3, Jesus became unclean the moment he touched the leper. In fact, Jesus did not become unclean, but in fact cleanses the unclean! As D A Carson says "at Jesus' touch nothing remains defiled." 

Hughes applies Jesus' touch of the leper - by touching this leper Jesus is showing us that he is willing to take on his impurities and is foreshadowing his taking all of ours as well (2 Corinthians 5:21+). Put differently, his mission is the cross. (Ibid)

Stretched (1614)(ekteino from ek = out + teino = to stretch) means stretch out literally, as a gesture with one's hand stretched out. Jesus' stretched His hands out "toward His disciples" (Mt 12:49), to Peter drowning (Mt 14:31), to the leper (Mk 1:41, Mt 8:3, Lk 5:13, cf healing in Acts 4:30). Ekteino is used of the stretching out of Paul's hand as he prepared to offer his verbal defense (Acts 26:1). Ekteino refers to Jesus telling the lame man to stretch out his hand (Mt 12:13, Mk 3:5, Lk 6:10). Ekteino can mean stretching out one's hands with a hostile intent to lay hands on or arrest (Lk 22.53). As a euphemistic figure of speech referring to one's hands stretched out in crucifixion (Jn 21.18). In Mt 26:51 when they came to arrest Jesus Peter "extending his hand, drew out his sword, and struck." In Acts 27:30 ekteino refers to the sailors pretending to "to lay out (stretch out the) anchors from the bow, (Act 27:30). In the Septuagint in Exodus 7:5 ekteino is used of God stretching out His hand over Egypt and deliver Israel (cf Ps 138:7)  frequently of Moses telling Aaron to stretch out his hand and staff (Ex. 7:19; 8:5-6,16-17), and of Moses stretching out his hand to bring plagues (Ex 9:22-23; 10:12,21-22) Paul alludes to the Lord stretching out His hand to the nation of Israel - But as for Israel He says, "ALL THE DAY LONG I HAVE STRETCHED OUT MY HANDS TO A DISOBEDIENT AND OBSTINATE PEOPLE." (Ro 10:21-note)

Touched (681)(hapto/haptomai where haptomai is the middle voice which constitutes the majority of uses) means to grasp, to lay hold of with the basic meaning of touching for the purpose of manipulating. Hapto conveys the sense handling of an object as to exert a modifying influence upon it or upon oneself. The majority of the 39 uses are in the Gospels and are associated with Jesus touching someone (or someone touching Him) usually with a beneficial effect as here with the healing of the leper and in Mt 8:15 with the curing of the fever of Peter's mother-in-law. 

THOUGHT - H A Ironside Have you felt a touch of His healing hand? Has His voice rebuked the fever of sin that once raged in your very being? Is it your delight now to serve Him? Are you among those who are glad not only to avail themselves of His delivering power, but are now concerned about giving Him the service of a grateful heart? Are you putting yourself out for the blessing of other people? This is the test of real conversion. You can tell a person who has experienced the saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ by the manifestation of a desire to please Him, a desire to do His will, to glorify Him, to make Him known to others, and to bring them into contact with Him. Every time the Lord wrought a work of power like this upon the body of some dear needy soul, the word of it went abroad to encourage others to come to Him. It is the same today. When the Lord Jesus works in great grace, saving one from the life of sin, bringing him to know God and giving him the power to live a new life to His glory, how it appeals to other people! I do not think there is anything that has such a tendency to draw folks to any place where the Word of God is preached as the word going forth that people are being saved, that men and women are being delivered from their sins, that God is working miracles among them. Oh, that we might see more of that here—the saving power of our Lord Jesus thus manifested!(Expository Commentary)

THOUGHT - "When Jesus touched the leper, He contracted the leper's defilement; but He also conveyed His health! Is this not what He did for us on the cross when He was made sin for us? (2 Cor. 5:21+) (Wiersbe)

Saying, "I am willing; be cleansed - Ready and willing is our Jesus. Be cleansed was command in the aorist imperative to the leper to be cleansed and do it now! Now ponder that a moment. Could the leper even obey this in his own power? Of course not. He did not have the power. This command was evidence of Jesus' supernatural power, which the leper gladly received. Jesus' command was actually given (in a sense) to the leper's leprosy which reminds us of His commands to other natural phenomena such as the great storm of wind (Mk 4:37KJV) which immediately ceased when He commanded "Hush, be still" (Mk 4:39+) or when "He rebuked the fever and it left" Peter's mother-in-law (Lk 4:39+). 

Jesus is always willing to heal and cleanse the sinful soul who seeks salvation from Him! He turns no broken and contrite spirit away empty handed! Someone should make a T-shirt with the logo "JESUS IS WILLING!" It would prompt spectators to ask "Willing to do what?" And then "cleansed lepers" would have an opportunity to give a witness even as Jesus commanded this cleansed leper to do! 

I am willing (2309) thelo in present tense = continually. Indeed Jesus is ever willing and able to heal any humble soul who has been crippled by Adam's fall.

Be cleansed (2511) katharizo in the aorist imperative (Do this now!) and passive voice indicating the cleansing came from an outside source (Jesus' omnipotence to heal). Katharizo is frequent in the Gospels - Matt. 8:2-3; 10:8; 11:5; 23:25-26; Mk. 1:40-42; 7:19; Lk. 4:27; 5:12-13; 7:22; 11:39; 17:14,17. Luke also uses katharizo in Acts (Acts 10:15; 11:9; 15:9). Katharizo is used 4 times in the story of Naaman (2 Ki 5:10, 12, 13, 14).

And immediately his leprosy was cleansed (katharizo) - As with His other miracles, this one was instantaneous. No incantations. Just a word from Jesus. Jesus the Creator Who in Genesis 1:3 spoke and said "Let there be light”; and there was light," (cf Heb 11:3+, Heb 1:3+) spoke here as Jehovah Rapha, the Healer, commanding "Be cleansed" and he was cleansed! 

Leprosy (3014)(lepra from lepis = a scale) is used only 4x in the NT (Matt. 8:3; Mk. 1:42; Lk. 5:12; Lk. 5:13) and always means leprosy. Bock adds that "lepra appears to be a broad term for a whole series of skin diseases, rather than referring just to Hansen's Disease (Mycobacterium leprae pix), as it came to be known in the nineteenth century."  One misconception is that leprosy is highly contagious (Kent Hughes - "leprosy is a contagious disease") but in fact it is NOT highly contagious. 

Bill Gaither wrote the words of the famous song He touched Me in 1963 being inspired by Jesus' touch healing the leper (in Mark 1:41). 

He touched Me

Shackled by a heavy burden
'Neath a load of guilt and shame
Then the hand of Jesus touched me
And now I am no longer the same.

He touched, oh, he touched me
And oh the joy that floods my soul!
Something happened, and now I know
He touched me, and made me whole.

Since i've met this blessed savior
Since he's cleansed and made me whole
I will never cease to praise him
I'll shout it while eternity rolls.

Oh! he touched me! Oh! he touched me!
He touched me! And Oh the joy that floods my soul!
Something happened, and now I know
He touched me, and made me whole.

Kent Hughes We learn valuable lessons from the healing of this leper. Anyone wanting Christ's spiritual healing must put these lessons to work in his or her own life.

We must come to Christ with a deep awareness of sin. Do we acknowledge that we are sinners and that we have nothing in ourselves to commend us to God? Do we mourn our sins? If so, we are ready for Christ's healing touch.

We must bow before him in humble reverence—submit to him as our only hope and tell God that if he does not save us, we will be lost.

We must believe he can make us clean. Do you believe? "He himself bore (your name)'s sins on the tree, so that (your name) might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds (your name) has been healed" (1 Peter 2:24). (Ibid)

Spurgeon -  “I will; be thou clean.”—Mark 1:41

Primeval darkness heard the Almighty fiat, “light be,” and straightway light was, and the word of the Lord Jesus is equal in majesty to that ancient word of power. Redemption like Creation has its word of might. Jesus speaks and it is done. Leprosy yielded to no human remedies, but it fled at once at the Lord’s “I will.” The disease exhibited no hopeful signs or tokens of recovery, nature contributed nothing to its own healing, but the unaided word effected the entire work on the spot and for ever. The sinner is in a plight more miserable than the leper; let him imitate his example and go to Jesus, “beseeching him and kneeling down to him.” Let him exercise what little faith he has, even though it should go no further than “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean”; and there need be no doubt as to the result of the application. Jesus heals all who come, and casts out none. In reading the narrative in which our morning’s text occurs, it is worthy of devout notice that Jesus touched the leper. This unclean person had broken through the regulations of the ceremonial law and pressed into the house, but Jesus so far from chiding him broke through the law himself in order to meet him. He made an interchange with the leper, for while he cleansed him, he contracted by that touch a Levitical defilement. Even so Jesus Christ was made sin for us, although in himself he knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. O that poor sinners would go to Jesus, believing in the power of his blessed substitutionary work, and they would soon learn the power of his gracious touch. That hand which multiplied the loaves, which saved sinking Peter, which upholds afflicted saints, which crowns believers, that same hand will touch every seeking sinner, and in a moment make him clean. The love of Jesus is the source of salvation. He loves, he looks, he touches us, WE LIVE.

Just a Touch

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. Matthew 8:3

Today's Scripture & Insight: Matthew 8:1–4

Kiley leaped at the chance to go to a remote area of East Africa to assist a medical mission, yet she felt uneasy. She didn’t have any medical experience. Still, she could provide basic care.

While there, she met a woman with a horrible but treatable disease. The woman’s distorted leg repulsed her, but Kiley knew she had to do something. As she cleaned and bandaged the leg, her patient began crying. Concerned, Kiley asked if she was hurting her. “No,” she replied. “It’s the first time anyone has touched me in nine years.”

Leprosy is another disease that can render its victims repulsive to others, and ancient Jewish culture had strict guidelines to prevent its spread: “They must live alone,” the law declared. “They must live outside the camp” (Lev. 13:46).

That’s why it’s so remarkable that a leper approached Jesus to say, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean” (Matt. 8:2). “Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ ” (v. 3).

In touching a lonely woman’s diseased leg, Kiley began to show the fearless, bridge-building love of Jesus. A single touch made a difference.

By: Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

Lord, we want to show the fearless love You showed when You walked this earth.

What difference might we make if we overcome our fears and trust God to use us? (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

The Untouchables

Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him. — Mark 1:41

Today's Scripture:Mark 1:40-45

Of all diseases, leprosy is the only one singled out by the law of Moses and linked with sin. It’s not that having leprosy was sinful, nor was it the result of sin. Rather, the disease was seen as a graphic symbol of sin. If we could see sin, it would look something like leprosy.

In Mark 1 we read about a leper who fell on his knees before Jesus and made his request: “If You are willing, You can make me clean” (v.40). It’s the first instance in the Gospels of a plain request for healing—touching and profound in its simplicity.

Jesus was “moved with compassion” (v.41). People normally felt sympathy for the sick and troubled, but not for lepers. Because they were considered in those days as “unclean” both ceremonially and physically (Leviticus 13:45; 22:4), they were repulsive in every way to most people, who stayed as far away from them as possible. Nevertheless, Jesus was “willing” to reach out to this desperate, disease-ridden man and actually touch him! At that very moment the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.

Why did Jesus touch this man? He could have healed him just by saying, “Be cleansed.” But His touch illustrated His great compassion.

Jesus loves sinners. Do we?   By: David H. Roper (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

Jesus taught when He lived on this earth
How to show love to the lost;
So don't be afraid to give a kind touch,
No matter how much it may cost. —Carbaugh

To love sinners is to be like Jesus.

Global Prayer Digest -  The Dalits of India are the modern day equivalent of this untouchable leper (another article on the Dalits). Snippets related to the Dalits

To be untouchable, according to Indian-Hindu tradition, is to be undesirable, or unworthy of any sort of consideration or provision by society. This translates into frequent joblessness, lack of education and lifelong poverty. 

The Hindu caste system is very rigid, and there is no hope of ever escaping the caste into which one is born. 

In India, the dalits are approximately 300 million people who are deemed “untouchable” and comprise the lowest rung of the Hindu caste system. Since the origin of this system 3,000 years ago, the Dalits have lived in bondage to the code of caste. They have been unable to escape their fate and are deprived of even the most basic liberties and privileges, including the freedom to decide where to live, work and worship.

Omika finished her street sweeping early so she could begin her date with destiny. She joined three other scheduled caste women in a protest. As “untouchable” Dalits, the Haddi people are banned from Hindu temples. How can they worship their gods? How can they “gain favor” to reincarnate to a higher status? If they cannot appease the gods, their spirits are doomed to remain untouchable forever. So these four untouchable women trooped into a Hindu temple in a village of Orissa. When the upper caste villagers saw their offense, they joined with Hindu priests to beat the women. The priests shouted filthy language at them. The temple council demanded 1,000 rupees to purify the temple. That money, about $20 US, equals a full month’s income for these Haddi families. 

Christianity has been and still is seen by most Indians as the religion of the poor, and the “untouchable” Dalits. That’s because when missionaries from William Carey’s day came in contact with the outcastes, and they felt the love and the care of the missionaries, they were the first people to respond.

Evangelists and church planters working in all parts of the world have discovered a common factor in reaching the unreached people in their target areas: usually those most receptive to the gospel are those who are the poorest. In all provinces in India the dalits (the “untouchable” communities) have been the most responsive people group when they hear the good news. For those who have nothing to lose, it’s easy to see that change is probably going to be a good thing. They know that they are needy. 

Power of Touch

Dr. Paul Brand, twentieth-century pioneer medical missionary to India, saw firsthand the stigma associated with leprosy. During an appointment, he touched a patient to reassure him treatment was possible. Tears began to stream down the man’s face. An attendant explained the tears to Dr. Brand, saying, “You touched him and no one has done that for years. They are tears of joy.”

Early in His ministry, Jesus was approached by a man with leprosy, an ancient label for all types of infectious skin diseases. Because of his disease the man was required by the Old Testament law to live outside his community. If the sick man accidentally found himself in close proximity to healthy people, he had to call out, “Unclean! Unclean!” so they could avoid him (Leviticus 13:45–46). As a result, the man may have gone months or years without human contact.

Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man. Jesus had the power and authority to heal people with just a word (Mark 2:11–12). But as Jesus encountered a man whose physical illness left him feeling isolated and rejected, His touch assured the man that he was not alone but accepted.

As God gives us opportunities, we can extend grace and show compassion with a gentle touch that conveys dignity and value. The simple, healing power of human touch goes a long way to remind hurting people of our care and concern.  By: Lisa M. Samra (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

Reflect & Pray

Lord Jesus, thank You for the personal way You reached out to care for hurting people. Help me to follow Your example and extend compassion in my actions.

Caring for others may include a compassionate touch.

Okello’s Story, Our Story

Read: Luke 5:12-16 

[Jesus] put out His hand and touched [the leper]. —Luke 5:13

My friend Roxanne has had some impressive jobs in her life. She has covered the Olympics as a reporter. She has worked in Washington, DC, for noted people and companies. For years, she has written articles about top Christian athletes. But none of those jobs can compare with what she is doing now: giving the love of Jesus to children in Uganda.

What are her days like? Consider the rainy Thursday when she walked the muddy pathway to a cancer ward. Once inside, she scooped up little Okello, whose arms bore sores from poor IV care and whose body raged with a high fever. She carried him to the office of the only cancer doctor in the building and stayed with him until he got help and his condition stabilized.

Jesus, our example, spent His entire ministry among the suffering, healing them and bringing them the good news of God’s love (Luke 7:21-22).

How significant are the jobs we do? Sure, it’s vital to make a living to support ourselves and our families. But is there something we can do to help relieve the suffering in our world of pain? We may not be able to move to Uganda like Roxanne, but we can all find ways to assist someone. In whose life will you make a difference? By Dave Branon  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

God uses us to show His love
To people caught in life’s despair;
Our deeds of kindness open doors
To talk of God and His great care. —Sper

One measure of our likeness to Christ is our sensitivity to the suffering of others.

Someone to Touch

Read: Luke 5:12–16 

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. Luke 5:13

Commuters on a Canadian Metro train witnessed a heart-moving conclusion to a tense moment. They watched as a 70-year old woman gently reached out and offered her hand to a young man whose loud voice and disturbing words were scaring other passengers. The lady’s kindness calmed the man who sank to the floor of the train with tears in his eyes. He said, “Thanks, Grandma,” stood up, and walked away. The woman later admitted to being afraid. But she said, “I’m a mother and he needed someone to touch.” While better judgment might ha e given her reason to keep her distance, she took a risk of love.

Jesus understands such compassion. He didn’t side with the fears of unnerved onlookers when a desperate man, full of leprosy, showed up begging to be healed. Neither was He helpless as other religious leaders were—men who could only have condemned the man for bringing his leprosy into the village (Lev. 13:45–46). Instead, Jesus reached out to someone who probably hadn’t been touched by anyone for years, and healed him.

Please help us to see ourselves in the merciful eyes of Your Son.

Thankfully, for that man and for us, Jesus came to offer what no law could ever offer—the touch of His hand and heart.

Father in heaven, please help us to see ourselves and one another in that desperate man—and in the merciful eyes of Your Son who reached out and touched him. By Mart DeHaan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

No one is too troubled or unclean to be touched by Jesus.

INSIGHT: The healing of this leper would have had great significance to the people. Leprosy was a major problem in first-century Israel, with clear processes outlined for diagnosis and response to the disease (Lev. 13:38–39). It would be reasonable to ask: Why did the person go to the priest instead of going to a doctor? To the people of Israel, leprosy was not simply a fatal physical illness. Leprosy was seen as divine judgment for sin—a physical disease with spiritual roots. Since the cause of the disease was considered spiritual, the priest diagnosed the illness and, if the person was stricken with leprosy, prescribed the appropriate verdict: Isolation from family, home, community, and the corporate religious life of the nation. Not only did the Rabbi from Nazareth cleanse the man of his disease, but also by touching him He welcomed him back into the community.

Jesus still welcomes outcasts today. Whom can you welcome in today?

Seeing Upside Down

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. —Matthew 9:12

Today's Scripture & Insight: Matthew 8:1-4; 9:9-12

In India I worshiped among leprosy patients. Most of the medical advances in the treatment of leprosy came about as a result of missionary doctors, who were willing to live among patients and risk exposure to the dreaded disease. As a result, churches thrive in most major leprosy centers. In Myanmar I visited homes for AIDS orphans, where Christian volunteers try to replace parental affection the disease has stolen away. The most rousing church services I have attended took place in Chile and Peru, in the bowels of a federal prison. Among the lowly, the wretched, the downtrodden—the rejected of this world—God’s kingdom takes root.

Taking God’s assignment seriously means that we must learn to look at the world upside down, as Jesus did. Instead of seeking out people with resources who can do us favors, we look for people with few resources. Instead of the strong, we find the weak; instead of the healthy, the sick. Instead of the spiritual, the sinful. Is not this how God reconciles the world to Himself? “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. . . . I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt. 9:12-13 niv). By: Philip Yancey  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. — Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

To gain a new perspective, look at the world upside down as Jesus did.

Reflect & Pray

We know, Jesus, that You sought the lowly ones who were rejected by others. We want to be like You. Open our eyes and show us how. We long to be used by You to bless others.

Do you see a needy world through the eyes of Jesus?

F B Meyer -   He stretched forth his hand,and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean.

This leper, as the physician-evangelist remarks, was full of leprosy. It was a very aggravated case. He lay in the dust before Jesus. What a contrast! Loathsomeness and Divine beauty; disease and health; humanity at its worst and best; sinner and Savior; one of Satan’s most miserable victims, and the Almighty Deliverer. So, my reader, if thou art conscious of a heart and life which are full of sin, I would have thee meet thy Savior now. There is no if about his power — even the leper recognized that. The only doubt was about the Savior’s will: there is, however, no doubt on this score now, since He has healed myriads, and promises healing to all who come. Throw thyself, then, at his feet, and ask for cleansing. “He stretched forth his hand, and touched him.” No one else would have dared to do as much. To touch that flesh, according to the Levitical code, would induce uncleanness. But Jesus shrank not. On the one hand, He knew that the ceremonial restrictions were abolished in Himself: on the other, He desired to teach that sin cannot defile the Divine holiness of the Savior. Whatever be the stories of sin that are breathed into his ear; whatever the open bruises and putrefying sores which are opened to his touch; whatever the sights and scenes with which He has to cope — none of these can leave a taint of evil in his sinless heart. It would be as impossible for sin to soil Christ as for a plague to contaminate flame. And He will heal thee. Dare to claim it.

Break up the heavens, O Lord, and far
Through all yon starlight keen
Draw me, thy bride — a glittering star
In raiment white and clean.

Matthew 8:4  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."

NET  Then Jesus said to him, "See that you do not speak to anyone, but go, show yourself to a priest, and bring the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."

GNT  καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Ὅρα μηδενὶ εἴπῃς, ἀλλὰ ὕπαγε σεαυτὸν δεῖξον τῷ ἱερεῖ καὶ προσένεγκον τὸ δῶρον ὃ προσέταξεν Μωϋσῆς, εἰς μαρτύριον αὐτοῖς.

NLT   Then Jesus said to him, "Don't tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed."

KJV And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.

ESV  And Jesus said to him, "See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them."

NIV Then Jesus said to him, "See that you don't tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."

  • See - Mt 6:1 9:30 12:16-19 16:20 17:9 Mk 1:43,44 5:43 7:36 Lu 5:14 Joh 5:41 7:18 8:50 
  • show - Mt 3:15 5:17 Lev 13:2-46 14:2-32 Isa 42:21 Lu 17:14 
  • present an offering: Lev 14:4,10,21,22 
  • for a testimony - Mt 10:18 2Ki 5:7,8 Mk 1:44 6:11 13:9 Lu 5:14 21:13  Joh 10:37,38 


Parallel Passages:

Mark 1:44+   and He said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

Luke 5:14+   And He ordered him to tell no one, “But go and show yourself to the priest and make an offering for your cleansing, just as Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

See that you tell no one: See (horao) is in the present imperative calling for him to continually keep quiet about his healing. Publicity over such miracles might hinder Christ’s mission and divert public attention from His message. Mark records that this is precisely what happened. In this man’s exuberance over the miracle, he disobeyed; as a result, Christ had to move His ministry away from the city and into the desert regions (Mark 1:45+). As Bruner wrote “Jesus will not storm Israel with his messianic claim”; instead he will “knock quietly at its door, leper by leper, little by little." (Matthew: A Commentary. The Christbook)

Wiersbe writes that "One thing is certain: Jesus did not perform miracles to “get a crowd.” He usually avoided the crowd. Time after time, Jesus instructed those whom He had healed not to talk too much (Mt. 8:4, 18; Mt 9:30; Lk 8:56+). He did not want people trusting Him simply on the basis of spectacular deeds (see John 4:46–54). Faith must be based on His Word (Ro 10:17). (Bible Exposition Commentary)

Darrell Bock lists 6 reasons that have been suggested for Jesus’ command of silence (Plummer 1896: 149–50):

1. Jesus wants him to be silent until he is officially declared to be clean (Schürmann 1969: 277; Marshall 1978: 209; Wiefel 1988: 117).
2. Jesus wishes to prevent the leper from becoming proud. However, there is no hint of such a concern in the account.
3. Jesus wishes to prevent the priests from hearing about the healing early and thus stopping the leper’s return to society. However, up to this point in Luke’s Gospel, there is no hint of official opposition.
4. Jesus wishes to prevent excessive popular excitement as a result of his healing ministry (so Marshall 1978: 209, with view 1). This point is quite possible, as the following verse suggests.
5.  It shows Jesus’ humility. This idea is not developed in relationship to miracles anywhere else.
6.  Jesus wants to avoid having to offer himself to be ritually cleansed for touching a leper. This motive, too, seems unlikely. When Jesus did not follow tradition, he did not hide his actions. It is also probable that since Jesus is a prophet he has the freedom to touch these people, as the Elisha example suggests.The most likely explanations are that the silence was appropriate until the leper went to the priest (view 1) and that such silence also would prevent undue popular excitement over Jesus’ miraculous work (view 4). The account vividly shows how Jesus downplays his miraculous work. Often he tries to restrict the spreading of a message about miracles (Luke 4:35, 41; 8:56; Matt. 9:30; 12:16; Mark 1:34; 3:12; 5:43; 7:36; 8:26; Plummer 1896: 150 (Baker Expository Commentary NT - Luke)

Related Resources:

But go, show yourself to the priest:  The problem was that there was no cure for leprosy in those days, so as far as we know these laws were never implemented. Naaman was miraculously healed (2 Kings 5:1-19), but he was not an Israelite, so did not follow the prescribed procedures for cleansing (see  Who was Naaman?). So far as the record goes, this incident in all 3 synoptic Gospels is the first time that a cleansed leper would have gone to the priest in the manner prescribed by Moses, with the one possible exception of Miriam (Nu 12:10-15). Imagine the shock of the priests! If that would not shake them out of their spiritual lethargy, even a dead man rising for the dead would not awaken their consciences and pierce their hearts (cf Lk 16:31+).  Jesus full of mercy would give the priests another chance and this time would send not one healed leper but ten cleansed lepers to the priests (Read Lk 17:12-19+) Surely this would break through their hardness of heart! But it was not to be! 

Show (1166) (deiknuo) means to show and has the sense of to draw attention to or exhibit something, in this case primarily by visual means so that the priest could apprehend with their senses what had occurred. The idea of this verb was to show so as to prove something is true or to make clear by evidence. In short the leper's skin free of the ugly spots was to be a visual demonstration of a dramatic miracle!

Priest (2409)(hiereus from hieros = consecrated to God and as a noun = temple) is consecrated person who serves God and in Jesus' day, were the Jewish men who offered Temple sacrifices and carried out other sacred rites associated with the Temple (cp Heb 8:4). 

  • Torrey Topical Textbook Priests
  • Easton's Bible Dictionary Priest
  • Fausset Bible Dictionary Priest
  • Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible Priest
  • Hastings' Dictionary of the NT Priest
  • The Jewish Encyclopedia Priest

And present the offering that Moses commanded: Mk 1:44; Lu 5:14 add for your cleansing "katharismos." Here is what Moses commanded...

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing. (Lxx = katharizo) Now he shall be brought to the priest, 3 and the priest shall go out to the outside of the camp. Thus the priest shall look, and if the infection of leprosy has been healed in the leper, 4 then the priest shall give orders to take two live clean birds and cedar wood and a scarlet string and hyssop for the one who is to be cleansed. 5 “The priest shall also give orders to slay the one bird in an earthenware vessel over running water. 6 “As for the live bird, he shall take it together with the cedar wood and the scarlet string and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the live bird in the blood of the bird that was slain over the running water. 7 “He shall then sprinkle seven times the one who is to be cleansed from the leprosy and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the live bird go free over the open field. (Lev 14:1-7+).

Warren WiersbeThis ceremony is described in Leviticus 14 and is another beautiful picture of Christ's work for sinners. The bird slain pictures the death of Christ; the bird released pictures His resurrection. Putting the bird into the jar pictures the Incarnation, when Christ took a human body that He might die for us. The application of the blood to the ear, thumb, and toe illustrates the need for personal faith in His death. The oil on the blood reminds us of the Spirit of God, who enters the person when he trusts the Saviour. (Bible Exposition Commentary)

Adam Clarke on the offering This gift was two living, clean birds, some cedar wood, with scarlet and hyssop, Leviticus 14:4, which were to be brought for his cleansing; and, when clean, two he lambs, one ewe lamb, three tenth deals of flour, and one log of oil, Leviticus 14:10; but if the person was poor, then he was to bring one lamb, one tenth deal of flour, one log of oil and two turtle doves, or young pigeons, Leviticus 14:21, 22.” 

As a testimony to them: Guzik makes an interesting point that "The elements used in the Levitical ceremony for the cleansing of a leper (cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet) are the same elements used in cleansing someone who was defiled by a dead body (Numbers 19:6, 19:13, 19:18 and Leviticus 14:4-7). Since lepers were never healed, these priests had never conducted this ceremony. When they had to look up the procedure for this ceremony and had to carry it out for the first time, it would be a strong witness that the Messiah was among them." Arnold Fruchtenbaum writes that "Although the priesthood had all these detailed instructions as to how they were to respond in the case of a healed leper, they never had the opportunity to put these instructions into effect, because from the time the Mosaic Law was given, no Jew was ever healed of leprosy. As a result, it was taught by the rabbis that only the Messiah would be able to heal a Jewish leper." (Read The Three Messianic MiraclesIndeed, to the rabbis the cure of a leper was as difficult as raising a person from the dead.

Notice priest above is singular, but here Jesus says them which is plural, which most think refers to the other religious leaders in the Temple, that is the Jewish priests. Imagine their shock at seeing a healed leper! Each of these miracles was like a divine sign like a giant blinking neon sign on the highway intended to point the witnesses (whether they be the Jewish crowds or the religious leaders) to Jesus as the divine One, the Redeemer, Whose desire was for them to be spiritually healed. No wonder, in view of the hypocritical unbelief so prevalent in the priesthood, that Jesus said this would be "for a testimony to them." What a WITNESS this would present to the RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY. In view of the rejection of Jesus as Messiah by most of the religious leaders (Nicodemus was an exception, et al Jn 3:1ff+) given such a startlingly bright divine light, we can begin to grasp the depth of their hatred of God and hardness of heart. Religion can be a deadly thing and take you straight to the Lake of fire! God desires relationship grounded on humility, not religion founded on hubris. As David says Ps 51:17+ "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." In Isaiah we read "For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite." (Isa 57:15)

Testimony (3142)(marturion/martyrion source of English "martyr") means the healed leper would be walking living proof that a miracle had been performed. And for the leper it was to be a declaration of facts which confirmed he was now clean, sort of like an emancipation proclamation for this man who had been enslaved (so to speak), bound by his leprosy undoubtedly for many years.  The cleansed leper showing himself would be a visual testimony that he had no more skin spots and was cleansed. Did the priests ask who performed this miracle? The Gospel writers do not say but based on their asking about who healed the blind man in John 9:1-7, (see Jn 9:13-15), it is almost a given that they asked who performed this miracle. So the blind man knew it was "the Man who is called Jesus' (Jn 9:11), just as did the leper who addressed Jesus as "Lord."

Arnold Fruchtenbaum has an interesting note on leprosy in his fascinating article entitled The Three Messianic Miracles....

Some time prior to the coming of Yeshua (Jesus), the ancient rabbis separated miracles into two categories. First were those miracles anyone would be able to perform if they were empowered by the Spirit of God to do so. The second category of miracles were called "messianic miracles," which were miracles only the Messiah would be able to perform. Yeshua did miracles in both categories: general miracles and also messianic miracles. So because of the rabbinic teaching that certain miracles would be reserved only for the Messiah to do, whenever He performed a messianic miracle it created a different type of reaction than when He performed other types of miracles.

The first messianic miracle was the healing of a leper....From the time the Mosaic Law was completed, there was no record of any Jew who had been healed of leprosy. While Miriam was healed of leprosy, this was before the completion of the Law. Naaman was healed of leprosy, but he was a Syrian Gentile, not a Jew. From the time the Mosaic Law was completed, there was never a case of any Jew being healed of leprosy.

Leprosy was the one disease that was left out of rabbinic cures; there was no cure for leprosy whatsoever. Yet Leviticus 13-14 gave the Levitical Priesthood detailed instructions as to what they were to do in case a leper was healed. On the day that a leper approached the priesthood and said, "I was a leper but now I have been healed," the priesthood was to give an initial offering of two birds. For the next seven days, they were to investigate intensively the situation to determine three things. First, was the person really a leper? Second, if he was a real leper, was he really cured of his leprosy? Third, if he was truly cured of his leprosy, what were the circumstances of the healing?  If after seven days of investigation they were firmly convinced that the man had been a leper, had been healed of his leprosy, and the circumstances were proper, then, on the eighth day there would be a lengthy series of offerings. All together, there were four different offerings. First, there was a trespass-offering; second, a sin-offering; third, a burnt-offering; and fourth, a meal-offering. Then came the application of the blood of the trespass-offering upon the healed leper followed by the application of the blood of the sin-offering upon the healed leper. The ceremony would then end with the anointing of oil upon the healed leper. (The Three Messianic Miracles)

Charles Ryrie on Leprosy and the Law of Moses - “Those things which Moses commanded” are recorded in Leviticus 14. Briefly, the ritual of cleansing was as follows: two clean living birds, a cedar rod, scarlet, and hyssop were taken; one bird was then killed in an earthen vessel over running water; the hyssop was then tied to the rod with the scarlet band and it and the living bird were dipped in the blood of the dead bird; next the blood on the rod was sprinkled over the leper seven times, and the living bird was loosed. At this point the leper was pronounced clean, but more was still required of him. He had to wash his clothes, shave, bathe, stay away from his house for seven days, repeat the ablutions and shaving, and finally on the eighth day offer at the temple a sin offering, a trespass offering, a meal offering, and a burnt offering. It is evident that the law was very detailed about this procedure, and doubtless, because it had seldom if ever been used, there would have been a lot of scratching of priestly heads had the leper obeyed the Lord and gone to them. Instead, he chose to disobey and publish his miracle abroad so that it actually hindered his benefactor’s ministry.

The power of the law. Certain important doctrinal facts about the relation of the Savior, the sinner, and the Mosaic law are illustrated in this miracle. The first is that the Mosaic law was powerless to cleanse. It could after a length of time pronounce as true the fact that a man was cleansed, but it could not perform the cleansing itself. The nature of the law has not changed; it still cannot cleanse the sinner no matter how admirably he may try to keep its commands. “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justffied in his sight” (Rom 3:20). It was never given as a means of spiritual salvation, and great is the error of those who so use it today.

The purpose of the law. The Lord’s reason for commanding this leper to go to the priests was that the Mosaic law might be used as a testimony to them. In the process of performing the ritual of the law they might have been led to the Savior. Such is a legitimate purpose of the preaching of the law today. It may be used to lead a man to Christ. It is for the unrighteous (1 Ti1:9), to shut him up to faith in Christ (Gal 3:23–24). Our Lord used it this way (Luke 10:25–37) and so may we.

Although the law may be used to show a sinner his hopeless condition, only Christ can save. What then is the place of the law in the life of the redeemed? Being saved does not exempt one from lawful living, but the law involved is no longer the law of Moses but the law of Christ. So it was for the cleansed leper (Mark 1:44), and so it is for the cleansed sinner in this age (1 Cor 9:21). He is no longer under any part of the Mosaic law (including the Ten Commandments, 2 Cor 3:7–11), but he is to live by the commandments of Christ under grace. But, someone will say, Are not many of the requirements of the law (and especially the principles of the Ten Commandments) repeated substantially in the teachings of grace? The answer is obviously yes. Then, one will say, Why insist that the Christian is not under the Mosaic law (including the Ten Commandments)? We insist on it for the evident reason that the Scripture says so (2 Cor 3:7–11; Rom 10:4; Heb 7:11–12), and for the very practical reason that even though some of the standards may be similar under law and grace, no one will ever possibly reach any of those standards in his life if he tries to do so by keeping the law. The law can only motivate to sin (Rom 7) and never to sanctification. Legalism is the greatest enemy of sanctification; thus to connect the believer’s sanctification with the law is to defeat him before he starts. Love is the only workable motive for sanctification, but love does not mean license. No doubt, the leper was so overpowered with love for his deliverance and his deliverer that he thought he was doing right by telling everyone else of Jesus. But that was not real love, for if he had had genuine. thoughtful love he would have obeyed. The law of Christ is tailor-made and perfect in every detail. The love of Christ brings perfect obedience to each and all of those details. May, the lessons of this miracle be practiced in a life of obedience motivated by the love of the one who loved us and gave Himself for us. (Dr Ryrie's Articles)

Matthew 8:5  And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him,

  • entered - Mt 4:13 9:1 11:23 Mk 2:1 Lu 7:1 
  • a centurion - This was a Roman military title; and therefore this officer may be concluded to have been a Gentile.  Mt 27:54 Mk 15:39 Lu 7:2-10 Ac 10:1-33 22:25 23:17,23 27:13,31,43 

The parallel account (Lu 7:1-10) says that the centurion [Roman army officer commanded 100 men] sent the Jewish elders to Jesus to make this request on his behalf (Lu 7:3, cp Mt 27:54; Acts 10:1; Acts 27:1) 

And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him

Matthew 8:6  and saying, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented."

  • my - Job 31:13,14 Ac 10:7 Col 3:11 4:1 1Ti 6:2 Phm 1:16 
  • paralyzed - Mt 4:24 9:2 Mk 2:3-12 Ac 8:7 9:33 

and saying, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented

Matthew 8:7  Jesus said to him, "I will come and heal him."

  • I will - Mt 9:18,19 Mk 5:23,24 Lu 7:6 

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

Matthew 8:8  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.

  • I am - Mt 3:11,14 15:26,27 Ge 32:10 Ps 10:17 Lu 5:8 7:6,7 15:19,21 Joh 1:27 13:6-8 
  • but - Mt 8:3 Nu 20:8 Ps 33:9 107:20 Mk 1:25-27 Lu 7:7 

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.

Matthew 8:9  "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."

  • Go - Job 38:34,35 Ps 107:25-29 119:91 148:8 Jer 47:6,7 Eze 14:17-21 Mk 4:39-41 Lu 4:35,36,39 7:8 
  • Do - Eph 6:5,6 Col 3:22 Tit 2:9 

Ryrie -  a man under authority. If a lesser officer can give orders, certainly Christ, who possesses all authority, can. 

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

Matthew 8:10  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.

  • marveled - Mk 6:6 Lu 7:9 
  • I have - Mt 15:28 Lu 5:20 7:50 

Parallel Passage -

Luke 7:9  Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled at him, and turned and said to the crowd that was following Him, “I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith.”

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

Matthew 8:11  "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;

  • That many - Mt 24:31 Ge 12:3 Ge 22:18 Ge 28:14 Ge 49:10 Ps 22:27 98:3 Isa 2:2,3 11:10 Isa 49:6 52:10 60:1-6 Jer 16:19 Da 2:44 Mic 4:1,2 Zec 8:20-23 Mal 1:11 Lu 13:29 14:23,24 Acts 10:45 Acts 11:18 Acts 14:27 Ro 15:9-13 Ga 3:28,29 Eph 2:11-14 3:6 Col 3:11 Rev 7:6 
  • recline Lk 12:37 Lk 13:29 Lk 16:22 Rev 3:20,21 
  • in the kingdom of heaven- Mt 3:2 Lu 13:28 Ac 14:22 1Co 6:9 15:20 2Th 1:5 


I say to you that many will come from east and west - In the context of the centurion, a Gentile who displayed great faith, the many obviously will include Gentiles as well as Jews. The many are "His elect (JEW AND GENTILE) from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other." (Mt 24:31) Indeed Micah's prophecy declares that "it will come about in the last days that the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains (SPEAKING OF ISRAEL AND THE HOLY CITY, THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING). It will be raised above the hills, and the peoples will stream to it. Many nations (GENTILES) will come and say, “Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD And to the house of the God of Jacob, That He may teach us about His ways And that we may walk in His paths.” For from Zion (THE HOLY CITY) will go forth the law, Even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem." (Micah 4:1-2+, cf Isaiah 2:1-2+)

East (395)(anatole from ana = up, again + tello = to make to rise) means rising (as of a star or the sun). In some context anatole refest to the rising of the sun or "breaking of the dawn" which means East or Orient (used with this meaning especially in the Lxx - Ge 2:8, 10:30, 11:2, 12:8;  used of the Magi from the east who saw the star in the east - Mt 2:1, 2, 9+, those who come into God's kingdom will be from "east and west" = Mt 8:11, Lk 13:29+, "lightning comes from the east" = Mt 24:27). Here Luke is using anatole to refer to the coming of Christ. John uses anatole to describe the "angel ascending from the rising of the sun." (Rev 7:2+), to describe "kings from the east" as they assemble at Armageddon (Rev 16:12+), and lastly to describe the "three gates on the east" of the holy city of Jerusalem that will come down out of heaven from God (Rev 21:13+). Anatole - 11x in 11v - Mt. 2:1; Mt. 2:2; Mt. 2:9; Mt. 8:11; Mt. 24:27; Mk. 16:8; Lk. 1:78; Lk. 13:29; Rev. 7:2; Rev. 16:12; Rev. 21:13

And recline at the table  - Recline at the table is a phrase reflects standard Jewish image of future banquet in God’s kingdom. Although the Bible declared that it was for all peoples (Isa 25:6). People were seated at banquets according to rank. They “sat” at regular meals but “reclined” at feasts; table fellowship signified intimacy, so fellowship with the great patriarchs was thought to represent a future hope for the Jewish people, not for Gentiles, with whom Jewish people did not eat. Recline at table on couches as Jews and Romans did. Hence Leonardo da Vinci's famous picture of the Last Supper is an anachronism with all seated at table in modern style.  The Jews were accustomed to speak to the delights of the Messiah's kingdom as a feast with the patriarchs. The language implies intimate domestic intercourse and fellowship.

Luke refers to this future reclining at the table

“Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.(Lk 12:37+)

COMMENT - This is an amazing verse. Who is the one who will gird himself? This speaks of the Messiah. 

And they will come from east and west and from north and south, and will recline at the table in the kingdom of God.(Lk 13:29+)

With Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven in the kingdom of heaven - Gentiles reclining at the table with Jews! And not just with any Jews but with the great patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! This would border on almost blasphemous to ears of Jewish hearers! Indeed, Jesus’ words to those Capernaum Jews were startling in the extreme. What He said utterly contradicted everything taught by their rabbis. The twenty-ninth chapter of the apocryphal book of Second Baruch pictures what Jews believed would be the great heavenly feast at which all Jews were going to sit down and eat behemoth, the elephant, and leviathan, the giant sea monster, or whale-symbolic of an unlimited amount of food. In the eyes of many Jews, one of the most significant and appealing things about the feast was that it would be totally free of Gentiles. How deceived and misconceived they were! And sadly still are for the most part. 

1). The father chose the bride for his son (Eph 1:4).

2). A binding wedding agreement, the bethrothal, was made before the marriage was consummated. (2 Cor 11:2,3,4).To break that covenant, a bill of divorcement was required. If impurity (any unfaithfulness was considered adultery) was found in the bride, then the bride could be put to death.

3). At the appointed time for the marriage, the ceremonies began with the wedding procession, which usually took place near midnight. (2 Thes 4:13,14-18).

4).The BRIDEGROOM and his friends went to the bride's home to get her and her attendants and take them to his home. (Mt 25:1-13). Bride is taken to the father's home, led to a canopy and beside her husband spoke the wedding vows. (Rev 19:7-8).

6). THE MARRIAGE SUPPER followed (Mt 22:1-14) usually at the home of the groom and lasted from 3-7 days, the last day being the most elaborate. The MARRIAGE SUPPER was the ''bringing home'' of an already accredited bride to her covenanted husband, to which guests were invited. Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb'' (Rev 19:9). Abraham, Isaac & Jacob probably are ''those who are invited" (Mt 8:10,11,12). Possibly all who enter the 1000 year reign of Christ are guest.

Matthew 8:12  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."

  • the sons - Mt 3:9,10 7:22,23 21:43 Ac 3:25 Ro 9:4 
  • be cast - Mt 13:42,50 22:12,13 24:51 25:30 Lu 13:28 2Pe 2:4,17 Jude 1:13 

See Luke 13:22-30 

but the sons of the kingdom ;

SONS OF THE KINGDOM: Jesus has just commended the great faith of the Roman centurion, a Gentile, who came seeking healing for his servant. The "children of the kingdom," in this instance, refers to UNREPENTANT JEWS who thought that their ancestry automatically entitled them to the kingdom of God (see John 8:31-59). In reality, however, these were false children of the kingdom (Mt 7:21-23; 13:38; Luke 13:22-30). Those who come "from the east and west" are Gentiles who, exercise personal faith in Jesus Christ. The Jews thought that they were assured of special favor by God, but the Lord reminded them that they could be "last" in the kingdom of God while those who thought themselves "last," such as publicans and prostitutes, would be "first" if they exercised faith in Him (Mt 21:31). Furthermore, the UNREPENTANT JEWS would be "cast out" because of their hypocritical claim that they were the children and followers of Abraham. Abraham was the father of the faithful, and although these men were physical descendants of him, they were not part of the family of faith.

will be cast out into the outer darkness

OUTER DARKNESS:  occurs three times in the Bible (Mt 8:12; 22:13; 25:30) and is always preceded by the definite article in Greek. It seems to have denoted an area outside a well-illuminated banquet hall where there was darkness (see the parable of the wedding feast in Mt22:1-14). The person who managed to sneak into the banquet hall without the proper garment was cast into "outer darkness," separated from the ongoing feast. In the first two instances, "outer darkness" refers to the place of suffering for the unbelievers and is in contrast to the light where the believers dwell (1Jn1:5-7). Unbelievers will be thrown into the furnace of fire, whereas believers will shine as the sun in the kingdom of the Father (Mt13:42, 43 Da12:3). The "outer darkness" in Mt8:12 and 22:13 is referring to Géenna (1067), the "place of burning" (Mt5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 18:9).

in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth

Matthew 8:13  And Jesus said to the centurion, "Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed." And the servant was healed that very moment.

  • Go - Mt 8:4 Ec 9:7 Mk 7:29 Joh 4:50 
  • for you as you have believed - Mt 9:29,30 15:28 17:20 Mk 9:23 
  • And the servant - Joh 4:52,53 

Toussaint has an intriguing comment - "Some see great significance in Matthew's deliberate rearrangement of these miracles. Since Matthew did not follow the chronological order, it seems he intended to illustrate the plan of his Gospel. Accordingly, the first miracle shows Christ ministering to the Jews. His mighty works bore testimony to His person, but His testimony was rejected. Consequently, He turns to the Gentiles, who manifest great faith in Him. Later, He returns to the Jews, represented by the mother-in-law of the apostle to the Jews. He heals her and all who come to Him. This third picture is that of the millennium, when the King restores Israel and blesses all the nations."

 And Jesus said to the centurion, "Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed."

And the servant was healed that very moment.

Matthew 8:14  When Jesus came into Peter's home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever.

  • into - Mt 8:20 17:25 Mk 1:29-31 Lu 4:38,39 
  • mother-in-law lying sick- 1Co 9:5 1Ti 3:2 4:3 Heb 13:4 

Click to Enlarge for Labels

Ruins of Home in Capernaum
Purported to be Peter's Home

Parallel Passages

Mark 1:29-31+ And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. 31 And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them. 

Luke 4:38-39+ Then He got up and left the synagogue, and entered Simon’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Him to help her.  And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately got up and waited on them. 

When Jesus came into Peter's home - Matthew does not record Jesus' coming out of the synagogue (Mk 1:29). The service probably ended around noon.

THOUGHT - All our homes at some time or another become homes of grief. But if Jesus is a guest, how richly He pays for His entertainment! For when we tell Him, somehow or other the burden is lifted. Not that the sickness, or whatever be the particular cause of anxiety, is at once removed, but the pain and grief are assuaged, and a blessed peace fills the soul. How can the effect be better expressed than in the words the evangelist uses about Peter's wife's mother—"the fever left her"? That is exactly it! In the midst of our troubles and grief, when we feel the healing, cooling touch of Christ, the fever—the ache, the pain—passes out of our souls. (J D Jones)

He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever Matthew does not mention the disciples asking Jesus to help her (Lk 4:38+, Mk 1:30+). Lying sick is the verb ballo which means putting someone somewhere (in this case in bed) and in the perfect tense which speaks of her having become sick in the past and is still ill. So this does not suggest a short time illness. Note that puresso is in the present tense which also implies this was an ongoing problem. She was "burning up with fever" as we might say today. 

Mother-in-law (3994)(penthera) means a wife's mother, the mother of one's spouse. 5x in NT - Matt. 8:14; Matt. 10:35; Mk. 1:30; Lk. 4:38; Lk. 12:53 12x in Septuagint (Lxx) most often of Ruth's mother-in-law Naomi - Deut. 27:23; Ruth 1:14; Ruth 2:11; Ruth 2:18; Ruth 2:19; Ruth 2:21; Ruth 2:23; Ruth 3:1; Ruth 3:6; Ruth 3:16; Ruth 3:17; Mic. 7:6;

Fever (4445)(puresso from puretós = fiery heat, fever from púr = fire) means to "be on fire," to be ill of a fever. Only used here and Mt 8:14 = "When Jesus came into Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever." Thayer says Greek word for fire, pur, is from Sanskrit word pu = “to purify.” 

Matthew 8:15  He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she got up and waited on Him.

  • touched - Mt 8:3 9:20,29 14:36 20:34 2Ki 13:21 Isa 6:7 Mk 1:41 Lu 8:54 Ac 19:11-13 
  • and waited on Him - Lu 4:38,39 Joh 12:1-3 


How many of us could echo those words! Every one of us who have been touched by Jesus and healed from the otherwise eternally fatal affliction of the "sin virus!"

He touched her hand, and the fever left her - Mark says Jesus came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her  (1:31+).  Of course to raise her up, He would have had to touch her. Luke adds that Jesus stood "over her" and "rebuked (epitimao) the fever and it left her." (Lk 4:39+). 

Touched (681)(hapto/haptomai where haptomai is the middle voice which constitutes the majority of uses) means to grasp, to lay hold of with the basic meaning of touching for the purpose of manipulating most used describing Jesus touching someone (or someone touching Him) with a beneficial effect as here with the removal of the fever and earlier wit the healing of the leper in Mt 8:3+.  

Fever (4446)(puretos from pur = fire) means fever, high temperature, feverish or "fiery" heat, burning heat. 6x in NT - Mt 8:15; Mk 1:31; Lk 4:38; Lk 4:39; Jn 4:52; Acts 28:8

Left  (863)(aphiemi from apo = prefix speaks of separation, putting some distance between + hiemi = put in motion, send) conveys the basic idea of an action which causes separation and means to send from one's self. Aphiemi is the same verb used to forgive sins (send them away like the Scapegoat in the wilderness in Lev 16:10+ [Lxx uses aphiemi] on the day of atonement) as when Jesus forgave sins (e.g., Mt 9:2). One gets a picture of Jesus "sending" the fever away (so to speak)! Jesus again demonstrates His authority over natural forces. 

And she got up and waited on Him - Matthew adds a subtle change compared to both Mark and Luke who record she waited on them. Matthew by contrast states she waited on HIM! Jesus Alone is worthy!  Earlier after His temptation in the wilderness, behold, angels came and began to minister to Him. (Mt 4:11+, Mark 1:13+) Wuest notes that waited on "is in the imperfect tense, showing progressive action. She went to serving them. It took some time to prepare the meal." The idea of diakoneo is literally to “wait on tables” to give you a picture of her willingness to be "servile" in waiting on Jesus.

Lowell Johnson - She didn't have to tell anyone she was healed. It was obvious by the way she conducted herself. There was no better way this woman could prove her healing than by serving Christ. So it is with our spiritual healing. When the Lord Jesus cleanses our hearts from sin, our service to Him is the best way we can show the world the dynamic difference He has made in our lives. We are saved to serve. Sadly, many Christians don't know how to spell service. They spell it “Serve us.” (The Healing Of  Peter's Mother-In-Law)

Waited on  (1247) (diakoneo - derivation uncertain - cp diakonis = in the dust laboring or running through the dust or possibly diako = to run on errands; see also study of related noun - diakoniagives us our word “deacon”) means to minister by way of rendering service in any form or to take care of by rendering humble service.  It is the word Martha uses when she informs the Lord that Mary has let her down, leaving her to serve alone (Lk 10:40+ = "left me to do all the serving alone."  In Mt 20:28 Jesus declares "the Son of Man did not come to be served (diakoneo), but to serve (diakoneo), and to give His life a ransom for many." At His crucifixion "Many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee while ministering (diakoneo) to Him."

THOUGHT - One commentator suggests that the serving on the part of Simon's wife's mother is the proof of the reality and completeness of the healing. If service is the proof evidence of healing, how does it stand with us? Are we serving? If not, is it certain that we have been healed? "We know," says St John, "that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren" (1 John 3:14, R.V.). (J D Jones)

THOUGHT - The statement that she got up and waited on Him implies that she served Him immediately: Have you ever recovered quickly after a fever? It generally takes some recuperation time, doesn’t it? Your bones ache, you feel weak and all you want to do is sleep. Especially for us men. Have you heard about the “Man Flu”? It’s an illness that causes the male to be helpless and sicker than any other family member. In females it’s called a cold.  But for Peter’s mother-in-law she was completely helpless and sicker than any other family member. And yet, she needed no recuperation time. She was healed and went right into helper mode. Anytime you encounter Jesus the natural response should be to serve Him!

We have been saved to serve,
healed to help and
touched so that we touch others.

Daniel Akin addresses a question which will be discussed more in Mt 8:17 below, and that question is this "Is there healing in the atonement? Isaiah 53:5 says “with his stripes we are healed.” Matthew 8:17, in the parallel account of these events, even adds a quote from Isaiah 53:4 saying, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” The answer is Yes! There is healing in the atonement! For some it is immediate but temporary. All still die. For all who trust Jesus as Savior and Lord it is eternal and permanent. We find this wonderful truth made plain in Rev 21:4-5, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Sermon)

Matthew 8:16  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.

  • When evening came - Mk 1:32-34 Lu 4:40 
  • they brought - Mt 4:24 9:2 Mk 2:3 Ac 5:15 
  • He cast out the spirits - Mt 12:22 Mk 1:25-27,34 5:8 9:25 Ac 19:13-16 
  • healed all who were ill - Mt 14:14 Ex 15:26 


Parallel Passages:

Mark 1:32-34+ When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. 33 And the whole city had gathered at the door. 34 And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was. 

Luke 4:40+ While the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing (imperfect tense) them.

When evening came - What day is this? From the context and comparing with parallel passages, this is the Sabbath. Sabbath started at sundown on Friday and ended at sundown on Saturday. Actually, they had to wait until the first three stars were clearly visible in the sky. Matthew's statement that evening came marks the end of the Sabbath, and now healings were rabbinically legal, so the people of Capernaum could now travel any distance they needed to in order to reach Jesus and/or carry those who were not able to come in their own strength (the legalistic Jewish leaders and oppressive laws restricted the length one could travel on Sabbath and did not allow bearing burdens -- even sick people -- on that day because that was considered work and healing itself was also considered work - cf Mk 3:1-5+). We can glean from this episode a simple principle that LEGALISM blunts or restricts the work of GRACE! (Jesus' healing was certainly a manifestation of divine grace!) (See also "Sabbath's Day Journey") It should also be noted that Jesus had already "broken the Sabbath" (e.g., Mk 1:21-28+) and would do so several more times (Mk 3:14+, et al). 

Began bringing is in the imperfect tense ("KEPT BRINGING") picturing people streaming one after another bringing the ill and demon-possessed. Frankly I am surprised they were able to bring the demon-possessed people as surely the demons knew what was awaiting them and could have caused a convulsion or some other hindrance to keep them from being brought to Jesus. Personally, I think this is another evidence of the power of divine over demoniacal. 

They brought to Him many who were demon-possessed - The fact that they "brought" them indicates they were not able to come to Jesus themselves, a statement which would certainly be true of a demon-possessed individual. That they were even able to bring such a person to Jesus without overwhelming opposition is amazing and speaks of God's sovereign supernatural superintendence over these events. 

Brought (4374)(prosphero from prós = to, toward, denotes motion toward a place + phéro = bring) means to carry or bring something into the presence of someone usually implying a transfer of something to that person carry to. Prosphero was used by Matthew in Mt 2:11+ to describe the wise men who "presented (prosphero) to Him (BABY JESUS) gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh." Mt 4:24+ records "The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought (prosphero) to Him (JESUS) all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them." Earlier in this chapter Jesus instructed the healed leper " present (prophero) the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony" to the Jewish priests. Of course the greatest offering in eternity was Christ's offering of Himself as the sacrifice (Heb 9:14+, Heb 9:25+, Heb 9:28+, Heb 10:12+). 

Demon-possessed (1139)(daimonizomai from daimonion = demon) means to be possessed by a demon, to be under the power of a demon, to act under the control of a demon. Note the striking contrast, Jesus a Man under the control of the Spirit now (empowered by the self-same Spirit) exerts authority over those souls who were under the control of an evil spirit. Once again Jesus wins in the cosmic confrontation between the two kingdoms of this world - the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness (cf Col 1:13+, Acts 26:18+). This verb is only found in the Gospels - Matt. 4:24; Matt. 8:16; Matt. 8:28; Matt. 8:33; Matt. 9:32; Matt. 12:22; Matt. 15:22; Mk. 1:32; Mk. 5:15; Mk. 5:16; Mk. 5:18; Lk. 8:36; Jn. 10:21. Daimonizomai is in the present tense indicating the demons were continually in control of the entire personality these poor victims. What a tormented life that must have been.

And He cast out the spirits with a word - The Word (logos Jn 1:1) used a word (logos) to cleanse the people from unclean spirits. A word is not an incantation or a magic formula, but a word, as Matthew 4:10ESV when Jesus commanded the devil "Begone (one word in Greek - hupago in present imperative), Satan!" There is no supernatural struggle when Jesus casted out the demons, once again clearly demonstrating His authority over the invisible world (and healing demonstrated His authority over the visible world). 

Cast out (1544)(ekbállō From ek = out + bállō = to cast, throw, drive) means to cast, throw out often with the idea of force, in this case supernatural power (cf similar contexts in Mt 8:31, Mt 9:33, 34, 10:1, 10:8, 12:26, 27, 28, 17:19)! In Mt. 21:12 "Jesus entered the temple and drove out (ekballo) all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. Ekballo was used earlier Jesus declaring that "the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Mt 8:12+, a solemn warning repeated in Mt 22:13, Mt 25:30) In short, Jesus casts out evil spirits and evil men! 

And healed all who were ill - Notice the word ALL indicating that this was unconditional. Some were not turned away because they were not worthy to be healed. Beloved, none of us is worthy to be healed by Jesus, physically or spiritually! This is another manifestation of our receipt of what John referred to as "grace upon grace!" (NET = "one gracious gift after another") (Jn 1:16+). In Mark's parallel passage (Mk 1:34), he records that Jesus healed many who were ill which is not a discrepancy for Grassmick points out this is a "Hebrew idiom meaning “all who were brought” (cf Mk 1:32, Mk 10:45, Mt 8:15). " (BKC)

PRINCIPLE - Do not miss the fact that Matthew clearly distinguishes demon-possessed from all who were ill. The point is that while in one sense all disease and sickness is the result of sin, not all disease is the result of demonic activity (yes some demon possessed people were had illness, but they were a minority). Stated another way Satan and His demons may inflict physical affliction (cf Lk 13:10-17+), but clearly not all physical affliction is demonic in origin. AND FROM MY EXPERIENCE AS A MEDICAL DOCTOR I STRONGLY BELIEVE MOST ILLNESS IS NOT DEMONIC.

Healed (cured)(2323)(therapeuo from therapon = an attendant, servant) means primarily to care for, to wait upon, minister to.. It has two main senses in the NT, one speaking of rendering service (Acts 17:25+) and the more common use as in the present context describing healing of the ill  (Mt. 4:23, 24; Mt 8:7, Mt 9:5, Mt 10:1, etc). Therapeúō in this context obviously means to heal miraculously or supernaturally. 

The parallel passage in Luke 4:40+ uses the same verb (therapeuo) for healing but in the imperfect tense which gives us the dramatic picture is of Jesus continually healing -- one sick person would either be brought to Him or come on their own power (if able) and He would heal him, then a lame person would come and He would heal him, then a deaf person would come and He would heal him. The imperfect tense helps us to see the scene in our mind's eye, so to speak. And quite a scene it was. We don't know how long this scene lasted, but we do know the whole city was there (Mk 1:33+) and it was evening (Mk 1:32). So depending on how many were sick, this scene could have lasted well into the night.

THOUGHT - While we do not know how long "JESUS' ER" lasted, we need to remember that Jesus was carrying these healings out in His capacity as fully Man, and at the end of a long day He must have been "fully exhausted!" How could a man, even Jesus Who was fully Man carry on such strenuous labors? Remember that Luke 4:14+ described Jesus functioning "in the power of the Spirit." (cf similar description by Peter in Acts 10:38+) While a Spirit filled Man is performing spiritual work, he is supernaturally energized.  It was the famous missionary Hudson Taylor who said "Depend on it. God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supply." Can we not see our desperate need to be continually in the will of God ("God's way") and continually filled and empowered by the Spirit? (Eph 5:18+, cf Eph 3:16+, Acts 1:8+Could this be why so many Christian workers reach a point of burnout (just wondering!)? Did you notice a difference in the description of Peter's healed mother-in-law and all these others who were healed of various diseases? None of the synoptic writers say once healed they went about serving others. Interesting!  One other thought is that Jesus never went looking for sick people to heal. Healings were never to overshadow His primary ministry of preaching and teaching the Word. Any ministry today that puts major emphasis on the miraculous at the expense of the proclamation of the Word is suspect at the very least and completely counterfeit at very worst (sadly most are in this latter category, especially if they are on television!)

Related Resources:

Matthew 8:17  This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: "HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES."

  • This was to fulfill- Mt 1:22 2:15,23 
  • Himself - Isa 53:4 1Pe 2:24 

This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: "HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES."

CARRIED: It is interesting that most of the NT quotations come from the Greek Septuagint (Lxx) translation rather than the Hebrew original, although some NT writers resorted to the Hebrew text on occasion as Matthew does here in [Mt8:17]. 
If Matthew had quoted the Lxx of (Isa 53:4) it might have been falsely suggested that Jesus actually bore sins during His earthly ministry, not only on the Cross. Therefore Matthew made use of the Hebrew text which has "sicknesses" rather than the Lxx text which has "our sins." (tas hamartias hemon) 

The context of M t8:17 is clearly Jesus' healing activity during His earthly ministry so that this prophecy in Isa 53:4 was fulfilled, according to this passage, before the atoning and propitiatory work of Christ on the cross. The corollary is that physical healing is not inherent in the atoning work of Christ. This is an important distinction as false teachers come along and say we should be physically healed because of Christ's work on the Cross & if we are not healed of our infirmity it is because we lack the faith necessary to invoke God's healing power. In essence they make "faith" the end all, not Christ. On the other hand  one should note that when we die our bodies are delivered from the power of sickness, pain and death in this present life, and from the very presence of disease in the future resurrection life. Furthermore God can and still does heal physical maladies but this is because He is a God of great lovingkindness & mercy & it is His sovereign pleasure to chose to heal or not to heal. He alone is God. 

The general fact is still undisputed, that the frequent use of the Lxx in the NT quotations shows its dominant position in the early church and the high regard in which it was held. On the other hand the presence of a number of NT quotations agreeing neither with the Hebrew nor with the Lxx constitutes an unresolved enigma. For this we will probably have to wait until we are in His presence before we understand. [1Co 13:12]

D A Carson's note on this passage -- On the fulfillment formulas, see on Mt 1:23; 2:5, 15, 23; 4:14; Introduction, section 11.b.) This quotation is Isaiah 53:4. Matthew’s rendering does not follow Septuagint (Lxx) or Targum, both of which spiritualize the Hebrew. Most likely Mt 8:17 is Matthew’s own translation of the Hebrew (Stendahl, School, pp. 106f.). Because Isaiah 52:13–53:12+, the fourth “Servant Song,” pictures the Servant suffering vicariously for others, whereas, on the face of it, Matthew renders the Hebrew in such a way as to speak of “taking” and “carrying” physical infirmities and physical diseases but not in terms of suffering vicariously for sin, many detect in this passage strong evidence that Matthew cites the OT in an indefensible and idiosyncratic fashion. McConnell (p. 120) sees this as another instance of Matthew’s using an OT passage out of context for his own ends (cf. also Rothfuchs, pp. 70–72). McNeile suggests Isaiah 53:4 had already become detached from its context when Matthew used it.

There are, however, better ways of interpreting this passage:

1. It is generally understood since the work of C.H. Dodd (According to the Scriptures [London: Nisbet, 1952]) that when the NT quotes a brief OT passage, it often refers implicitly to the entire context of the quotation. This is very likely here for Matthew has a profound understanding of the OT. Moreover, Isaiah 53:7 is probably alluded to in Matthew 27:12, Isaiah 53:9 in Matthew 27:57, and Isaiah 53:10–12 in Matthew 20:28, the latter in a context affirming vicarious atonement theology. Any interpretation of v. 17 that does not take into account the thrust of the entire Servant Song is therefore dubious.

2. Both Scripture and Jewish tradition understand that all sickness is caused, directly or indirectly, by sin (see on 4:24; cf. Gundry, Use of OT, pp. 230f.). This encourages us to look for a deeper connection between 8:17 and Isaiah 53:4.

3. Isaiah is thinking of the servant’s “taking the diseases of others upon himself through his suffering and death for their sin” (Gundry, Use of OT, p. 230). The two verbs he uses are nasa? (“took up [our infirmities]”) and se?alam (“carried [our sorrows]”), which do not themselves necessarily have the force of substitution, though they can be interpreted that way. The LXX spiritualizes “infirmities” to “sins”; and in this sense the verse is referred to in 1 Peter 2:24 in defense of substitutionary atonement. That interpretation of the verse is legitimate because the flow of the Servant Song supports it. But strictly speaking Isaiah 53:4 simply speaks of the Servant’s bearing infirmities and carrying sicknesses; and it is only the context, plus the connection between sickness and sin, that shows that the way he bears the sickness of others is through his suffering and death.

4. Isaiah 53, as we have seen, is important among NT writers for understanding the significance of Jesus’ death (e.g., Acts 8:32–33; 1 Peter 2:24); but when Matthew here cites Isaiah 53:4, at first glance he applies it only to Jesus’ healing ministry, not to his death. But in the light of the three preceding points, the discrepancy is resolved if Matthew holds that Jesus’ healing ministry is itself a function of his substitutionary death, by which he lays the foundation for destroying sickness. Matthew’s two verbs, contrary to some opinion, exactly render the Hebrew: the Servant “took up” (elaben) our infirmities and “carried” (ebastasen) our diseases (Gundry, Use of OT, pp. 109, 111). Matthew could not have used the LXX and still referred to physical disease. Yet his own rendering of the Hebrew, far from wrenching Isaiah 53:4 out of context, indicates his profound grasp of the theological connection between Jesus’ healing ministry and the Cross.

5. That connection is supported by various collateral arguments. The prologue insists Jesus came to save his people from their sin, and this within the context of the coming of the kingdom. When Jesus began his ministry, he not only proclaimed the kingdom but healed the sick (see on 4:24). Healing and forgiveness are tied together, not only in a pericope like 9:1–8, but by the fact that the consummated kingdom, in which there is no sickness, is made possible by Jesus’ death and the new covenant that his death enacted (26:27–29). Thus the healings during Jesus’ ministry can be understood not only as the foretaste of the kingdom but also as the fruit of Jesus’ death. It could be that Matthew also judges Isaiah 53:4 appropriate because it seems to form a transition from the Servant’s being despised to his suffering and death. Certainly at least some rabbinic tradition understood Isaiah 53:4 to refer to physical disease (cf. SBK, 1:481–82).

6. This means that for Matthew, Jesus’ healing miracles pointed beyond themselves to the Cross. In this he is like the evangelist John, whose “signs” similarly point beyond themselves.

7. But even here there is a deeper connection than first meets the eye. These miracles (ch. 8) have been framed to emphasize Jesus’ authority. This authority was never used to satisfy himself (cf. 4:1–10). He healed the despised leper (8:1–4), a Gentile centurion’s servant who was hopelessly ill (vv. 5–13), other sick (vv. 14–15), no matter how many (vv. 16–17). Thus when he gave his life a ransom for many (20:28), it was nothing less than an extension of the same authority directed toward the good of others (cf. Hill, “Son and Servant,” pp. 9, 11, who also points out how reductionistic Kingsbury’s “Son of God” christology is in light of such intertwining themes). Jesus’ death reflected the intermingling of authority and servanthood already noted (e.g., 3:17) and now progressively developed. After all, following the momentous miracles of 8:1–17, the Son of Man had nowhere to lay his head (v. 20).

Despite the stupendous signs of kingdom advance, the royal King and Suffering Servant faced increasingly bitter opposition. The Father had committed everything to him, but he was gentle and humble in heart (11:27, 29). This moving theme needs to be traced out inductively (cf. B. Gerhardsson, “Gottes Sohn als Diener Gottes: Messias, Agape und Himmelherrschaft nach dem Matthäus-evangelium,” ST 27 [1973]: 73–106). If the Davidic Messiah of Jewish expectation (Ps Sol 17:6) purifies his people by annihilating sinners, Matthew’s Davidic Messiah-Suffering Servant purifies his people with his death, takes on himself their diseases, and opens fellowship to sinners (cf. Hummel, pp. 124–25).

This discussion does not resolve two related questions.

1. Did Jews in Jesus’ day understand Isaiah 53 messianically? Most scholars say no. Jeremias answers more cautiously—viz., many Jews did so interpret Isaiah’s “Servant” but ignored references to his suffering (cf. Jeremias and Zimmerli).

2. Did Jesus interpret his own ministry in terms of the Suffering Servant? Matthew 8:17 does not help us because it gives us no more than Matthew’s understanding of the significance of Jesus’ healing miracles. (See further on 20:28; cf. Hooker, Jesus and the Servant; T.W. Manson, The Servant Messiah [Cambridge: University Press, 1953], pp. 57–58, 73.)

It should be stated that this discussion cannot be used to justify healing on demand. This text and others clearly teach that there is healing in the Atonement; but similarly there is the promise of a resurrection body in the Atonement, even if believers do not inherit it until the Parousia. From the perspective of the NT writers, the Cross is the basis for all the benefits that accrue to believers, but this does not mean that all such benefits can be secured at the present time on demand, any more than we have the right and power to demand our resurrection bodies. The availability of any specific blessing can be determined only by appealing to the overall teaching of Scripture. Modern Christians should avoid the principal danger of Corinth, viz., an over-realized eschatology (cf. A.C. Thistleton, “Realized Eschatology at Corinth,” NTS 24 [1977]: 510–26), which demands blessings that may not be ours till the end of the age. (Expositor's Bible Commentary)

Matthew 8:18  Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to depart to the other side of the sea.

  • Jesus saw a crowd - Mt 8:1 Mk 1:35-38 Lu 4:42,43  Joh 6:15 
  • to the other side of the sea- Mt 14:22 Mk 4:35 5:21 6:45 8:13 Lu 8:22 

Now when Jesus saw a crowd around Him, He gave orders to depart to the other side of the sea.

Matthew 8:19  Then a scribe came and said to Him, "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go."

  • Then a scribe came- Ezr 7:6 Mk 12:32-34 Lu 9:57,58 1Co 1:20 
  • I will follow You wherever You go - Lu 14:25-27,33 22:33,34 Joh 13:36-38 

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

Matthew 8:20  Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."

  • and - Ps 84:3 104:17 
  • the Son - Ps 40:17 69:29 109:22 Isa 53:2,3 Lu 2:7,12,16 8:3 2Co 8:9 

Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head

THE SON OF MAN: Son of Man. See on Mk2:10; Jn1:51. This is the name Jesus used for Himself more than any other. It is used 83 times in the gospels, always by Jesus Himself. It was a messianic title (Da 7:13, 14), with an obvious reference to the humanity and the humility of Christ. Yet, it also speaks of His everlasting glory, as Da 7:13, 14 shows (cf. Mt 24:27; Acts 7:56).

"Son of Man" is based upon the great Messianic passage in Da7:13. Cp. Mt 16:28; 19:28; 25:31; 26:64; Mk 14:62; Lu 22:69. It is His name as the representative Man, in the sense of 1Co 15:45-47, as Son of David is distinctively His Jewish name, and Son of God His divine name. Our Lord constantly uses this term as implying that His mission (e.g. Mt 11:19; Lu 19:10), His death and resurrection (e.g. Mt 12:40; 20:18; 26:2), and His second coming (e.g. Mt 24:37-44; Lu 12:40) transcend in scope and result all merely Jewish limitations. When Nathanael confesses Him as "King of Israel," our Lord's answer is, "You shall see greater things . . . the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man" (Jn 1:50,51). When His messengers are cast out by the Jews, His thought leaps forward to the time when the Son of man comes again to the human race (cp. Mt 10:5,6 with v23). It is in this name also that universal judgment is committed to Him (Jn 5:22,27). It is also a name indicating that in Him is fulfilled the OT foreview of blessing through a coming man (see Ge 1:26, 3:15; 12:3; Ps 8:4; 80:17; Isa 7:14; 9:6,7; 32:2).

Matthew 8:21  Another of the disciples said to Him, "Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father."

  • another - Lu 9:59-62 
  • permit - Mt 19:29 Lev 21:11,12 Nu 6:6,7 De 33:9,10 1Ki 19:20,21 Hag 1:2 2Co 5:16 

John MacArthur: "After Jesus had called a certain man to follow Him, the man asked permission to first bury his father—a figure of speech that meant waiting until his father died in order to receive the inheritance. Indicating the condition of spiritual deadness and bringing both deaths together, Jesus responded, “Follow Me; and allow the dead to bury their own dead” 

Another of the disciples said to Him, "Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father."

Matthew 8:22  But Jesus said to him, "Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead."

  • follow - Mt 4:18-22 9:9 Joh 1:43 
  • and - Lu 15:32 Eph 2:1,5 5:14 Col 2:13 1Ti 5:6 

 But Jesus said to him, "Follow Me,

And allow the dead to bury their own dead.

The meaning of "dead" is the spiritually dead. Paul writes to the saints at Ephesus " And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, (Ep 2:1). The young man was actually proposing to wait and follow Jesus after his father died, whenever that might be. As an aside there is a popular television show called "The Walking Dead." It strikes me that we actually do not need to watch the show, for the more realistic version of "The Walking Dead" is the majority of people we meet each day! They are spiritually dead and headed straight for eternal punishment

Matthew 8:23  When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him.

  • Mt 9:1 Mk 4:36 Lu 7:22 

 When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him

Matthew 8:24  And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep.

  • there - Ps 107:23-27 Isa 54:11 Jon 1:4,5 Mk 4:37,38 Ac 27:14-38 2Co 11:25,26 
  • but - Lu 8:23  Joh 6:17,18 11:5,6,15 

And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep.

Matthew 8:25  And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, "Save us, Lord; we are perishing!"

  • and woke - Ps 10:1 44:22,23 Isa 51:9,10 Mk 4:38,39 Lu 8:24 
  • save - 2 Ch 14:11 20:12 Jon 1:6 

And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, "Save us, Lord; we are perishing

Matthew 8:26  He said to them, "Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?" Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.

  • Why - Mt 6:30 14:30,31 16:8 Isa 41:10-14 Mk 4:40 Lu 8:25 Ro 4:20 
  • and rebuked - Mt 8:27 Job 38:8-11 Ps 65:7 89:9 93:3,4 104:6-9 107:28-30 114:3-7 Pr 8:28,29 Isa 50:2-4 63:12 Na 1:4 Hab 3:8 Mk 4:39,41 6:48-51 Lu 8:24,25 Rev 10:2 

The text on which God chose to save the great Puritan preacher John Owen in the 1600's (who lost 10 children in infancy and outlived his one daughter who lived to adulthood) as he listened to a substitute preacher bc the well-known preacher did not show up...God used a nobody, a man whose name we do not know. The same was true in the conversion of Charles Spurgeon...a layman reading Isa 44:22.

He said to them, "Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?" Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.

Matthew 8:27  The men were amazed, and said, "What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?"

  • Mt 14:33 15:31 Mk 1:27 6:51 7:37 

 The men were amazed, and said, "What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?"

Matthew 8:28  When He came to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were so extremely violent that no one could pass by that way.

  • when - Mk 5:1-20 Lu 8:26-39 Ac 10:38 
  • country of the Gadarenes Ge 10:16 15:21 De 7:1 
  • coming - Mk 5:2-5 Lu 8:27,29 
  • so - Judges 5:6 

When He came to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, two men who were demon-possessed met Him as they were coming out of the tombs. They were so extremely violent that no one could pass by that way.

Matthew 8:29  And they cried out, saying, "What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?"

  • What - 2Sa 16:10 19:22 Joe 3:4 Mk 1:24 5:7 Lu 4:34 8:28 Joh 2:4 
  • thou Son - Mt 4:3 Mk 3:11 Lu 4:41 Ac 16:17 Jas 2:19 
  • torment - 2Pe 2:4 Jude 1:6 

And they cried out, saying, "What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?"

Before the time  - Even demons not only recognized the deity of Jesus, but also knew there was a divinely-appointed time for their judgment and He would be their judge. Their eschatology was factually correct, but it is one thing to know the truth, and quite another thing to love it (cf. Jas 2:19).

Henry Morris - These "devils" (probably the fallen angelic spirits that followed Satan in his primeval rebellion against God) could recognize Jesus for who He was, even though He was now also a man. In fact, both Satan and his demons called Jesus "Son of God," but they never called Him "Son of man." They apparently refuse to acknowledge that "Jesus Christ is come in the flesh" (1 John 4:2,3).

Matthew 8:30  Now there was a herd of many swine feeding at a distance from them.

  • a herd of many swine - Lev 11:7 De 14:8 Isa 65:3,4 66:3 Mk 5:11 Lu 8:32 15:15,16 

Now there was a herd of many swine feeding at a distance from them

Matthew 8:31  The demons began to entreat Him, saying, "If You are going to cast us out, send us into the herd of swine."

  • Mk 5:7,12 Lu 8:30-33 Rev 12:12 20:1,2 

The demons began to entreat Him, saying, "If You are going to cast us out, send us into the herd of swine

Matthew 8:32  And He said to them, "Go!" And they came out and went into the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the waters.

  • Go - 1Ki 22:22 Job 1:10-12 2:3-6 Ac 2:23 4:28 Rev 20:7 
  • the whole - Job 1:13-19 2:7,8 Mk 5:13 Lu 8:33 

And He said to them, "Go!" And they came out and went into the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and perished in the waters

Matthew 8:33  The herdsmen ran away, and went to the city and reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs.

  • Mk 5:14-16 Lu 8:34-36 Ac 19:15-17 

The herdsmen ran away, and went to the city and reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs

Matthew 8:34  And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw Him, they implored Him to leave their region.

  • they besought - Mt 8:29 De 5:25 1Sa 16:4 1Ki 17:18 18:17 Job 21:14 22:17 Mk 5:17,18 Lu 5:8 8:28,37-39 Ac 16:39 

And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw Him, they implored Him to leave their region