Matthew 8:1-17 is a great account of Jesus healing the multitudes. Matthew choses three specific instances of Christ’s healing to illustrate for us the fulfillment of the prophecy from Isaiah. But before the account of the healings, the apostle tells us that they had just heard Jesus teaching in the “Sermon on the Mount”. This was such an amazing sermon that the crowds were “astonished at his teaching for he taught them as one who had authority and not as the scribes”, as they were accustomed. So when we come to chapter 8 and the varied accounts of healing, I believe we are seeing Matthew expound further on the authority of Jesus. That this authority extends even to bodily human illness. Jesus would later go on to say; “All authority is given to me in heaven and in earth — ” Matt 28:18
When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 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. Matthew 8:1-4
It is very interesting that in this account Jesus heals one of the lowest class people in the society of His day. A leper was unclean and would make anyone and anything he touched to become unclean. Not fit for ceremonies in the temple and clearly not accepted in social circles. But not only does Jesus heal this man, but he heals him by touching him. Later we will see Jesus heal the Roman centurion’s servant from a great distance, never seeing or speaking to or touching the servant. Why then would he do the unthinkable and touch the leper. Jesus was clearly capable of healing the leper from a good safe distance, wasn’t he?
I propose this touching of the leper was due to the prophetic fulfillment that was going on. In Isaiah 53 he declares that this one would “Bear” our grief’s and “Carry” our sorrows. These are words of intimate involvement. Could he have fulfilled this prophecy by being a distant aloof healer? Often times this is what we see in the charlatans of today. They claim to be able to heal from a television studio, and yet there is no personal touch. I say, if you are going to claim God’s power in healing today; then do it God’s way, the very same way that Jesus did it.
The last item of interest that I want to point out about this leper healing is that he was certainly of the nation of Israel. Jesus pointed him back to the Old Covenant law and to the requirements that Moses set forth for the cleansing and proof of cleansing of leprosy. Jesus basically called him to obedience.
And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man , Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it . When Jesus heard it , he marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour . Matthew 8:5-13
This second healing is interesting because it deals with the faith of a gentile. Jesus stated on several occasions that he had come for the lost sheep of the tribes of Israel. He told a woman that it was not fit to give the bread to dogs, referring to the blessings of God upon the gentiles. Was Jesus not aware of all of the Old Covenant promises to the nations? I believe he was, but first things first, it was not yet time to go to the Gentiles. Salvation is to the Jew first and then to the Greek.
Jesus was probably willing to heal the servant because the servant was more than likely an Israelite. This Roman centurion it is said in the parallel account in Luke 7 it says that the elders of the Jews of that city pleaded with Christ to do this kindness for the centurion because he “Loves our nation” and “He is the one who built us our synagogue.” They told Jesus that he was “Worthy for him to do this for him”.
This affinity toward the Jews from this centurion is seen as he recognizes the authority of Jesus by saying that he too has men under his authority and when he tells them to act, they act. He saw the same if not greater authority inherent in the person of Jesus Christ, and he confessed it out loud.
When Jesus heard this Roman man’s confession and his recognition of Christ’s rightful authority, he said that he had not found so great faith, not even in Israel. This Roman put to shame the people of Christ’s own nation.
After this he made a statement about many who would come from every corner of the nation of Israel expecting to sit with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. This is a reference to the marriage supper of the lamb, the re-marriage of Christ to Israel. And yet many of those in Israel expecting to come in and to sit at that table, will actually be cast into outer darkness. Here Christ is not hesitant to proclaim the judgment that is coming upon the people of his nation that would reject their messiah.
And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them. When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses. Matthew 8:14-17
Here is the last in this triad of healings. Jesus is lodging at Peters house and Peter’s wifes mother gets sick with a fever, (O.K. no mother-in-law jokes). Jesus is not so absorbed in the multitudes and the mobs that he cannot turn his attention to the individual members of his own entourage. This is a great display of his desire to emphasize the intimate relationships. The previous two healings were for the most part strangers. Jesus is never so preoccupied that he will not care for those of the house of God.
The last point to be made is that these three healings are merely representative of the huge number of healings that Jesus did. In the passage it says that many were brought to him, and he cast out devils, and healed ALL that were sick. All this he did to fulfill that which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:
“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4-6
This passage from Isaiah 53 is very interesting because of its connection with Isaiah 52. Paul in Romans 10 makes this connection for us. So by divine inspiration it seems, based on Paul’s use of both of the passages together that we should see them linked or else why would Paul make this connection for us.
“And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel.”
Romans 10:15-16a quoting Isaiah 52:6-7
“Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!”
Notice that Isaiah mentions that these things shall occur “In that day”. But what things are to occur and what “Day” was he referring to? The things are the things of Isaiah chapter 52 which upon a careful reading is the promise of God’s ultimate salvation of Israel and their restoration from their long captivity in Assyria.
Paul then quotes in the next breath from Isaiah 53.
“For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?“
Romans 10:16b quoting Isaiah 53:1
“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?“
In quoting these two together we see that he is using them to explain the fate of the Jews, his own countrymen. And he is explaining that it is all for the restoration of Israel, just as Isaiah 52 had declared.
Since Paul is quoting these together and is declaring them to be fulfilled, and Jesus has declared in Matthew 8 this prophecy to be fulfilled, we then must see that the restoration of Israel which was the purpose of the marriage supper that he alluded to has already come. The restoration of Israel had always included the Gentiles. And by the time we get to Paul in Romans, the Jews had been offered the gospel and it was now being offered to the Gentiles. But the whole of Romans 10 was to show that the door was at that time, still open to Israel. Since the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD that door has been closed. This was the judgment Jesus spoke of where the ones who expected to be at the table were cast into outer darkness.
Can those who claim to be of natural Israel be saved today? Absolutely, but they must come by way of Jesus Christ.