Matthew 8:19-27 His Disciples Followed Him


Jesus’ command to depart to the other side of the lake apparently instigated a few men to seek to follow Jesus.  Matthew tells us of two misinformed men who came to Jesus about following him and instead of finding a warm welcome, they find some very intense responses.  Readers, like you and me, are caught-off-guard by Jesus’ response to would-be disciples.  He really does a job on the popular notion today of being “seeker-friendly.”  The first man is enthusiastic and the second is somewhat lackluster.  Neither one prove to be sincere disciples.  These two men will serve as warnings for us and will allow for a few teaching points.  We will discover some of the things that Jesus is looking for in his followers and we will be made aware of the risks of following Jesus.  You will really need to reconsider the hymn that we sing, “Where he leads me I will follow … I’ll go with him all the way.”

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

A Certain Scribe Came [vv19-20]

This man had to have been a follower of Jesus to some extent because the second man is called “another” disciple meaning that the scribe was also some type of disciple.  At this point, the twelve disciples (Apostles) have not been set apart from the masses with a formal authorization.  So, the word “disciple” covers a wide range of people.  There were some who were interested in Jesus’ ministry, others who were caught up in his healing ministry, and others who were beginning to believe in him.

Scribes were themselves authorized teachers of the Law.  In Matthew’s Gospel we often find the scribes together with the Pharisees.  They did run together and they did think along the same lines.  Remember, in Matthew 5:20 Jesus says, “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Scribes were not considered favorably by Jesus or Matthew because of their hypocrisy and legalism.  Jesus harshly criticizes them in Matthew 23:2-5 by declaring, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.  Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.  For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.  But all their works they do to be seen by men.”  To say the very least, scribes were not the most likely men to become disciples of Jesus.

The scribe is overly-keen as he comes to Jesus.  At first you may think that he is respectfully approaching the Lord because he calls him “Teacher.”  Yet, in Matthew’s Gospel those who refer to Jesus as Teacher are those who do not fully understand who he is.  The scribe embellishes his willingness to follow Jesus as he says, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.”  One of the most obvious entailments of true discipleship is the homelessness aspect of Jesus’ ministry.  He had found some kind of station in Capernaum, but he truly had no home.  He would not stay in that town or even in that region for long amounts of time.  Jesus’ response has some shock value because even the animals have a place that they can call “home” whether it is a hole or a nest, but Jesus has no true home on earth.  To be a disciple is to be a part of his mission on earth.  The scribe needed to “count the cost” of discipleship before making such a declaration.

Jesus refers to himself as the “Son of Man” when he says that he has no place to lay his head.  The title can refer to one of three things: Jesus’ mission in humanity, his suffering, or his glory.  We must look at the context in which Jesus uses the title for himself to know what he means by it and even then it can be very vague.  In this context, Jesus realizes that the miracles that he has performed among the people have attracted many fans who themselves may not understand what his ministry is really all about.  He was on a mission which required that he constantly be on the move and those who wanted to be involved in the ministry would have to make the necessary adjustments as well.  Jesus does not reject the scribe for discipleship, but does warn him.

Another of His Disciples [vv21-22]

If the first man who came to Jesus aspiring to follow him was too hasty in his decision, the second acted too leisurely.  On the surface he wanted to follow Jesus, but his heart was in another place.  He was willing to put ceremonies and rituals before Christ.  This is not acceptable.  Men and women must count the cost of following Jesus, but can have no reservations after they have made the decision.  There will be events in life that will tempt your eyes to drift from your master’s lead and tempt your feet to stray from the path he has forged.  If you thought Jesus’ response to the scribe was harsh, I’m not sure what you would think of his response to this next disciple.  It is most commonly understood that Jesus means by his reply to “let the spiritually dead bury the physically dead.”  At the very least, he determines to have followers who are single mindedly devoted to him.  You can not confess with your lips what you are not willing to do with your hands and feet if you are going to follow Jesus.  There is a proper response to the Gospel of Jesus Christ: believe in the person and accomplishments of Jesus Christ, repent of your sins and past unbelief, be immersed into him through the waters of baptism, confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and Christ, and follow him without delay.

Connective: Both of these men showed some interest in following Jesus, but both were misinformed.  Making the decision to follow Jesus is a tremendous and life-altering determination.  You can not be hasty and make a decision without any thought to what you are doing.  You can not be muddled about your decision either.  Christ determines to have followers who are ever careful and single mindedly devoted to him.  Let me ask you something:
          Are you following Jesus just to “see” something?
          Or, are you following Jesus because you believe in him?
I’ll say it again: Christ determines to have followers who are ever careful in their considerations and single mindedly devoted to him.

But He was Asleep [vv23-25]

Sometimes following Jesus can lead you into a storm.  This narrative belongs with the previous two accounts of men coming to Jesus seeking to follow him and demonstrates that genuine discipleship is difficult.  Following Jesus is not always easy or pretty, sometimes you end up in a life-threatening storm.  Remember, many of the twelve men that Jesus hand-picked for discipleship had been fishermen.  They knew the waters well and had most likely been through some rough seas because it was common for storms to quickly gather on the lake, but Matthew tells us that they were so frightened this time that they actually believed that they were going to perish.  One thing that is astonishing is that Jesus is not only unafraid or untroubled; he continues to sleep while the storm rages.  The boat was flooding with waves, being tossed all over the place and Jesus can sleep because of exhaustion, but also confidence that his hour had not yet come.

The Winds and the Sea Obey Him [vv26-27]

What Jesus says as he opens his eyes and leans up from his place is calm and precise.  He wants to know why they are fearful and calls them men of little faith.  Though their faith was little, the disciples knew who to go to for help.  The problem was their lack of faith in Jesus’ mission.  If they truly believed that Jesus was the Son of God, the Christ who would redeem the people, then they would have to believe that he could not perish in a storm.  The Lord is not subject to anyone or anything.  Neither forces of nature nor demonic attacks can threaten the works of God.

Jesus has shown his authority and power over sickness, disease, and demonic forces; now he shows his authority and power over nature.  One man said, “He may have less shelter than the beasts and birds of nature …; yet he is nature’s master …” (Carson, 214).  Just as Jesus’ healing of disease was immediate, so is his rebuking of the storm.  He rebuked the wind and the seas and there was not only a calm, but a “great” calm.  By the word of his mouth order was brought.

On several occasions, the Old Testament attributes the control of the waters to God.  Thus, Jesus shows himself to be God in the flesh as he stills the storm.

Psalm 65:5-7 says, “By awesome deeds in righteousness You will answer us, O God of our salvation, You who are the confidence of all the ends of the earth, And of the far-off seas;
Who established the mountains by His strength, Being clothed with power;
You who still the noise of the seas, The noise of their waves, And the tumult of the peoples.

Psalm 89:8-9 says, “O Lord God of hosts, Who is mighty like You, O Lord?
You rule the raging of the sea; When its waves rise, You still them.


When we read about Christ’s authority and power it should not be so much about what he can do for you than learning something about who he is.  He is the one who can calm the storms with a word from his mouth.  He is the one who can sleep as the boat is tossed about.  He is the one who knows the hearts of men.  Would you believe in the one who the winds and waves obey?

The Christian life is not as magnificent as one may first think.  It is filled with heartache and trouble.  Christians understand better than anyone the misery that is all around us.  We understand that the results of the sinful nature are evident in the world because of the Fall and we know that those outside of Christ have no hope.  Those of the world are skeptical of us and even attack us on many occasions.  Yet, we do not throw pity parties for ourselves.  When we meet together as the church, we do not have complaining sessions.  We rejoice in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.  We have counted the cost of discipleship and we know that sometimes it can lead us into a storm.  And the Christ who calmed the lake is the Christ who is with us always.

If you have not turned to Christ, then count the cost and make a commitment to him.
If you have believed, then push forward with no reservations.

Those who persevere to the end will be saved.

Matthew 8:14-18 He Himself Took Our Infirmities


Chapter 8:1-18 is about Jesus’ authority over sickness, disease, and even the demons.  The chapter is also about his willingness to be involved in those situations.  The fact that Jesus has authority in these matters is proven by the display of his power in healing individuals.  He only needed to touch someone or merely speak a word and they would be healed.  He did not even have to be in someone’s presence in order to heal them.  He served lepers and Gentiles, poor and rich, child and adult, familiar and stranger.  In today’s text we find Jesus healing again and great multitudes crowding around him.  Let us open ourselves to the Scriptures that we may learn, grow, be encouraged and even challenged today.

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

Peter’s House (vv14-15)

All three synoptic Gospels record the account of the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law.  Peter obviously had a home in Capernaum and he was obviously married.  Other Scriptures also support these facts as well (Mk 1:29; 1 Cor 9:5).  He had lived in Bethsaida for some time, but had moved here, possibly for ministerial purposes.

There is no request made for this healing.  Jesus took the initiative, which shows that much more his willingness.  He saw the woman and touched her hand, thus healing her.  At that time, fever was considered a disease itself.  They did not understand it as merely a symptom.  At least some Jews believed that touching a person with a fever made one unclean.  So, like the encounter with the leper, Jesus is not restricted by Jewish tradition.  He reached out and touched the woman.

Now, that word “woman” leads us to our next point.  It was equally as unlawful for a man to touch a woman.  You see in Middle Eastern cultures today women are not even allowed to show their skin in public, they are even required to veil their faces.  “In Jewish teaching a man should not make contact with a woman’s hand, not even to count money from his hand to hers” (Morris, 197).  Jesus actually approaches a woman and touches her!  Once again, we should add that Jesus did not need to touch to heal.  He only needed to speak a word and she would be healed, but he goes against everything a Jewish man should do by touching her hand to heal her.  Matthew has now shown us that Jesus has ministered to three different kinds of second-class people: a leper, a Gentile, and now a woman.  We should not be so quick to pass over the fact of what Jesus did in healing Peter’s mother-in-law.  In that culture, women were not regarded very highly.  The Bible witnesses to us that God’s grace is extended to both men and women.  There are different gender roles for the home and church, yes, but his grace is extended to both male and female without distinction.  God created both male and female in his image, in his likeness.  And concerning the grace of Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female, for we are all one.

The result was that the fever left her.  “As in v. 3, the touch did not defile the healer but healed the defiled” (Carson, 204).  The effect was immediate because she got up from where she had been laying and began to serve again, as any good hostess should in that culture.  Her health and strength was restored.  There was no recovery time.  Matthew is clear that “Jesus’ authority instantly accomplishes what he wills” (Carson, 204).

That it Might be Fulfilled (vv16-17)

The Scripture says, “When evening had come…”  That is usually the time that the day’s work comes to an end, but not for Jesus.  When the sun went down, the people were still coming out in masses to crowd around Jesus for a miracle.  These people needed him and he healed them all.

Many who were demon-possessed were brought to him that evening.  He shows his authority over the works of the devil by casting out those demonic spirits with only a word. 

One main reason that Jesus healed all these diseases and sicknesses was to fulfill OT Scriptures. The verse that Matthew quotes comes from Isaiah 53:4 which is part of what’s called the Fourth Servant Song.  Isaiah delivered this message of deliverance to the people long before the appearance of the Messiah.  The Servant of Yahweh, Jesus Christ, was said to take upon himself the great burden that sin has accomplished.  (Go READ some of Isa 53).  Matthew translates this one phrase in reference to Christ and says, “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.”  How is it that Christ took and bore our sufferings?  He did it on the cross.  That is exactly what the rest of the Servant Song declares (“By His stripes we are healed”).

On the cross, Jesus bore our penalty as our substitute.  He paid for our sin and took our sickness. Jesus has secured a glorified existence in eternity for you.  Because of his pain, you have been promised a glorified body.  Because of his suffering, you will be saved.  Because of his love, your affliction is only temporary.  You may not be fully healed now, but you will in due time.

He Gave a Command to Depart (v18)

After Jesus had healed them all, the multitudes were still crowded around him.  Jesus had begun his Gospel ministry by preaching, teaching, and healing among the people.  He had traveled through several different regions and all sorts of people groups ministering to the by word and deed.  Matthew 4:24-25 says that “His fame went throughout all Syria” and that “Great multitudes followed Him—from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.”  Then he took them up on a mountain and delivered the greatest sermon known to man and afterward the people were not bored or fussy or exhausted, but the Scripture says in Matthew 7:28-29 “that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”  Then Matthew 8:1 declares, “When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.”  That is when he healed the leper, the centurion’s child-slave, Peter’s mother-in-law, and all who were brought to him in the evening.

The demand for Jesus’ ministry was relentless and he finally “gave a command to depart.” The time had come to move on from that place and so Jesus tells (most likely) his twelve disciples to cross over with him to the eastern side of the lake.


The demand for Jesus’ ministry was relentless…  The people needed him…

In his teaching, preaching, and healing ministry we see a preview of the Kingdom of God. That evening, when all the people were healed, is a glimpse of heaven: no more disease, no more sickness, no demonic work, no more pain, no more suffering, no more sadness, no emptiness. There will be healing, restoration, health, and joy forevermore.  We will be full and satisfied.

That’s why we pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Heaven is coming down soon enough, and we see a glimpse of it here in these verses.

We are confident “that sickness was not a part of the original creation and that it will have no place in the final state of affairs” (Morris, 199).  Yet, what do we do in the meantime?  How do we deal with the pressures of this present wicked age?  We trust…  Do I say that too much?  Has that word lost its luster in your life?  Does it have any meaning for you? 

Christ is coming soon enough…  Heaven will descend soon enough…
In the meantime…TRUST in him.  Follow his word.  Use this time as a preparatory period.
In the four accounts of healing, this chapter alone shows “how Jesus was willing to become unclean in order to make others clean” (Blomberg, 145).  This was a foreshadowing of the cross where he who knew no sin would be made sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

Matthew 8:5-13 I Have Not Found Such Great Faith

Last week was a poor, outcast leper; this week we run into a reputable, outcast Gentile.  What a comparison!  Both are stories of suffering and both are stories of faith.  In that culture, suffering/disease was rampant.  There was no relief and people did not live long.

READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

A Centurion Came to Him (vv5-7)

Matthew has already told us earlier in the book that Jesus had moved from Nazareth and made Capernaum his hometown.  Capernaum was a humble, peasant town, though larger and more significant than Nazareth.  It also had a strategic, lakeside setting.  This small agricultural and fishing village had approximately 1,000-1,500 people.  It was the home of brothers Peter and Andrew, and also James and John.  This region would have been made up of predominately Gentile peoples and that is what Matthew wants to set up here.

In the previous text Jesus was approached by a leper and now another man comes to him, a centurion.  This man would have been a Gentile who was stationed in the area as a commander.  As a Gentile, he represented an unclean people and as a Roman soldier, he represented a hated group of people.  The Jews despised both Gentiles and especially Roman soldiers.  Yet, we read about a centurion coming to Jesus pleading and respectfully calling him Lord.

For a man as powerful as the centurion, his concern for one of his servants is amazing.  The word that is used of servant can also be translated child.  Apparently it was a child-servant in the home of the centurion.  The boy is paralyzed which has caused terrible suffering in his life.  The centurion’s message, his prayer if you will, was only a statement before the Lord.  He did not attempt to come up with an answer to the problem or convince the Lord of his goodness so that the boy may be healed.  He simply laid down his need before the Lord.  And what was Jesus’ response?  “I will come and heal him.”  Once again we see Jesus’ willingness to heal.  In the entire account we do not read of any doubt that Jesus could perform this miracle.  The centurion does not second guess Jesus’ power and Jesus does not hesitate when confronted with the trouble.  He was able and willing!

Only Speak a Word (vv8-9)

The great humility of this Gentile is shown in v8.  He realizes that he is not worthy for Jesus to come under his roof.  Remember, Jesus declared in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the poor in spirit….”  This same event is given in Luke’s Gospel and he says that the centurion wasn’t even the one who came.  It was some elders of the Jews who came to deliver the message in the centurion’s behalf.  (This is common even in our culture.  Often times someone may speak for another as a representative.  For example, the news will state that the President released a statement when in fact it was the press secretary).  The centurion has great faith, which goes well with his feeling of unworthiness in the face of Jesus’ authority, and he affirms that Jesus only needs to speak a word and the boy would be healed.  We also learn from Luke that the centurion not only loved his servant, but he also loved the Jews.  Apparently many of the Jews highly esteemed the centurion as well.  He was an extraordinary man, though full of faith.

The centurion understood authority very well because he was a man under authority and he had men under his authority.  As a centurion in the Roman military, he had been invested with the authority of the emperor.  If a soldier under his authority disobeyed him, the soldier would not be rebelling against the centurion alone, but the emperor and the whole Roman Empire.  He understood authority.  The centurion could make great things happen with only his spoken word.  The faith that he shows in Jesus is astonishing, especially for a Gentile.  He recognizes that Jesus operates by the authority of God.  When Jesus acts, God acts and when Jesus speaks, God speaks.  The centurion “recognizes that Jesus needed neither ritual, magic, nor any other help,” but merely to speak a word and the boy would be healed (Carson, 202).

I Have Not Found Such Great Faith (v10)

Jesus acknowledges and appreciates the faith that the centurion demonstrates.  Let us view all the godly parts of the centurion’s story: first, his pleading began respectfully with “Lord;” second, he makes no judgment of what the Lord should do with the situation, he merely brings his concern before him; third, he admits his unworthiness; fourth, he submits himself to Jesus; fifth, he plunged to the depths of Jesus’ authority like no other man ever had – he understood that Jesus represented God and was operating with the authority of God, in the flesh.  That last thing is what was so amazing.  “That faith was the more surprising since the centurion was a Gentile and lacked the heritage of OT revelation to help him understand Jesus” (Carson, 202).

Sons of the Kingdom will be Cast Out (vv11-13)

The centurion represents the many Gentiles from all over the planet who would come to faith in Christ.  Jesus says that many will come from both the east and west to join the company of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  In the presence of many Jews, Jesus declares that there will be many Gentiles welcomed into the kingdom of heaven, but there will also be many Jews who will be cast out.  He goes on to say that there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Jesus was making a very specific point among the Jews, but the same point can be made for us.  There will be many who think they are going to heaven simply because they are members of a church or because they call themselves Christians, but they will be cast out into outer darkness.  Those who will enter heaven are those who have truly put their faith in Christ.

Jesus did not instruct the centurion to go and do anything.  He did not give him some task to perform, some ritual that would heal the servant.  He said, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.”  Jesus acted according to the man’s belief and the servant was healed.  How much faith you have is not what matters.  The quality of your faith is what matters and there is no greater quality of faith than what is placed in Jesus Christ.  The centurion trusted in what Jesus could do, not what he could do.

Someone has said, “Hell is not a doctrine used to frighten unbelievers; it is a doctrine used to warn those who think themselves believers” (Bruner via Blomberg, 143).  Do not fool yourself or be fooled by this world into thinking that you can be saved from the wrath to come by something that you can do or some kind of association that you can uphold.  Those who put their faith in the person and work of Christ will be saved from the wrath to come and will be welcomed into his kingdom.  So, you better focus all of your attention on Jesus Christ.

Matthew 8:1-4 You Can Make Me Clean

Today we encounter a story that is recorded in all three synoptic Gospels, i.e. Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  They are called synoptic because they cover much of the same material.  They each tell this story in their own way, which gives us different perspectives.  Apparently this was a famous incident between the Lord and a leper.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God

Great Multitudes Followed (v1)
The Scripture says, “When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.”  The mountain that he came down from must have been the one that he went up on in 5:1 and the multitudes that followed him must have been the ones that prompted the occasion for the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus’ fame had spread over the entire region and great crowds followed him everywhere he went.  Instead of giving the people what they wanted (i.e. a miracle), Jesus sat down and began to teach them.  He gave them what they needed.  Do you see the pattern that Jesus has set for us?  From time to time he will heal individuals and perform miracles, but his main objective is to teach all of his followers.  For the most part, the Christian life is not one of flashy events, but of slow and quiet progress in Christ which provides great joy.

Now why were they following him?  There may have been many in the crowds that followed him because they wanted to see a miracle, but for a direct answer we can go back to 7:28-29.  This was not like the time that Jesus fed the multitude and they followed him afterward because they wanted free food.  They followed him because of his teaching, his word.  What a lesson for us as we begin a new year.  Two questions may be asked: first, are you following Jesus and second, why are you following Jesus?  I hope that you answer “yes” to the first and “his word” to the second.  What is so special about Jesus’ word?  He speaks like no one else!  His words are spirit and they are life!  To whom else shall we go? Jesus Christ has the words of eternal life.

A Leper Came (v2)
“And behold” tells us that this is a new scene.  It is related to verse one, but may stand alone.  We can not be sure what kind of “leprosy” this was.  The word is used of all sorts of skin diseases, but it most certainly was something that was incurable and horrific to the people.  In any case, it made this man ceremonially unclean in the eyes of all Jews.  He would not have been able to worship in the Temple or really have any kind of social interaction with others.  He was an outcast.  He came and knelt down before the Lord to seek mercy.  He knew that Christ had the authority and power to do a great miracle for him.  He only feared that he would be passed by.  Have you ever felt that way?  You knew that Christ could forgive you of your sins, but for some reason you felt like you may be passed by?  If so, listen closely to the rest of the story.  For this man to come to Jesus would have been bold and the normal response for a Jewish man like Jesus would have been to steer clear of him.  Anything but that reaction would have been extraordinary.  The leper shows great respect for Jesus, he first kneels and then calls him Lord.

He asserts Jesus’ power in the first place with “you can” and then in the second place he asserts Jesus’ sovereignty “if you are willing.”

I am Willing (v3)
Jesus did something extraordinary!  He reached out!  He actually touched this man, who apparently did not come too close to Jesus.  Touching him would have made Jesus ceremonially unclean.  We know that he didn’t have to touch the man to heal him.  So, he must have intentionally done this to make a point.  Jesus reaches and he speaks.  He says, “I am willing; be cleansed.”  The love of Christ was extended to even the most outcast of society.

I like this word that is used next: “immediately.”  Immediately the man was healed.  His leprosy was cleansed.

Tell No One (v4)
Jesus wants the man to tell no one.  Most likely because it was not his time.  I have said many times before, Jesus was always aware of time during his life and ministry.  The man was not to tell anyone, but of course it would be made known to the priests who he presented himself before.

The last of verse four shows us that the Law points to Christ.  How does it demonstrate this?  What Jesus had just done would be confirmed by the priests who operated under the Law of Moses.  Even those corrupt priests would not be able to deny or discount what Jesus had done for this man.  So, Jesus does what the religious leaders can not.  He preaches and teaches with authority and he heals those who are considered to be forever unclean.

The Lord is willing to cleanse you this morning.  Not every receives a miracle of physical relief, but all to come to him for spiritual cleansing will not be passed by.  He is more than willing.  His willingness took him all the way to the cross of Calvary.