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.
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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.