Miracles Start To Take Place
“When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 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.” When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment. And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?” And when he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men met him, coming out of the tombs, so fierce that no one could pass that way. And behold, they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?” Now a herd of many pigs was feeding at some distance from them. And the demons begged him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us away into the herd of pigs.” And he said to them, “Go.” So they came out and went into the pigs, and behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters. The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.” (Matthew 8:1–34, ESV)
Jesus Touches A Leper
Large crowds are following Jesus at this point early in his ministry. Rumors are spreading, hope is rising, and those on the fringe of society began to take notice. A leper breaks from culturally expected norms and kneels before Jesus. Those close to Jesus may have retreated at this sight. Others may have hurled insults or yelled at this leper for his behavior. This leper was not welcome and was expected to not only announce to others that they suffered from this dreaded condition, but they were also expected to keep their distance and stay to their community which was suffering from the death touch. Jesus did what was unthinkable and reached out his hand and touched this leper. The outrageous behavior of this Rabbi would have caused the crowds great distress, and the expectation would be that Jesus would now be forced away because he was unclean. However, when he touched this man, the leprosy left his body, and he was immediately cleansed from his terrible prison. Jesus instructed him not to tell anyone and to show the priests so that they would pronounce him clean and he could integrate back into society. This man would not have to tell anyone because his presence alone would demand questions and answers.
The Kingdom of God has always extended beyond the Jewish world. The patriarch Abraham was told that all peoples and all nations would be blessed through him. As Jesus returns to Capernaum, something unexpected happens, and a Gentile Centurion approaches Jesus. The thing that is most unexpected is the centurion’s great faith. In a few verses, the disciples will demonstrate little faith, while those whom we might expect to have no faith at all show great trust in Jesus. For the centurion, Jesus heals the servant at a distance, rewarding the absolute confidence that the centurion puts in him. Jesus explains that faith is necessary, and nationality is not what saves. He commends this soldier and assures him that they servant would be healed.
Gender Is Not A Barrier For Jesus
When Jesus enters the home of Peter, he discovers that Peter's mother-in-law is sick with a fever. Jesus reaches out and touches her hand, and the fever went away. She shows her gratitude by serving her healer. By nightfall, many had gathered in the hopes of being healed and set free from demons and various types of maladies. These things were connected to the promise that was made through Isaiah. The Lord, our healer, took our illnesses and bore our diseases. Some of the crowd decided to follow him because of what they had seen and experienced. It may seem that the teaching about following Jesus is out of place, but when you carefully think through what has happened it stands to reason that the case must be made that one cannot follow Jesus just for his benefits. This healer is homeless, but he requires total surrender.
The King Has Dominion Over Creation
The disciples needed to learn the importance of complete confidence in Jesus. While the centurion trusted the ability of an absent Christ, the disciples could not trust the power of a present Christ. The miracle was a means of showing them his dominion over all of nature. It also served as a confirmation to their weak faith. These disciples are left to ask what kind of man is Jesus, and the answer is that he is the God-man. The encounter with the demoniacs reminds the reader that there are competing kingdoms that are engaged in conflict. Satan has a counterfeit kingdom, but that kingdom has significant influence and power in this world. However, even these demons recognize the authority of Jesus and ask for mercy. Jesus obliges their request, and they enter a herd of pigs which are drowned. The herdsmen that witnessed this incredible sight go into the town and report all that they have seen. The response of the people is somewhat unexpected. They were not interested in knowing Jesus; they just wanted him to leave their region.