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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Matthew 8

 

 

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Verses 1-4

30. Jesus cleanses a leper (Matthew 8:1-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-16)

People with leprosy and other skin diseases were considered unclean and a danger to public health. They were outcasts from society (Leviticus 13:45-46). If they were healed they had to offer sacrifices to symbolize their cleansing and express their thanks (Leviticus 14:1-20).

On the first recorded occasion when Jesus healed a leper, he did what anyone else would normally avoid doing; he touched the man. He then told the man to present himself to the priest (whose duty was to examine him and confirm that he had been healed; Leviticus 14:3) and to offer the sacrifices required by the law. He also told the man, clearly and firmly, not to broadcast what had happened, as he did not want to attract people who were curious to see a miracle-worker but had no sense of spiritual need (Mark 1:40-44).

The man disobeyed and as a result Jesus' work was hindered. So many people came to see him that he was unable to teach in the towns as he wished. He continued to help the needy, but the pressures upon him caused him all the more to seek his Father's will through prayer (Mark 1:45; Luke 5:16).


Verses 5-13

BACK IN GALILEE

48. Centurion's servant; widow's son (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 7:1-17)

Back in Capernaum, a Roman centurion asked Jesus to heal one of his servants who was dying. However, he did not expect Jesus to come to his house. Being an army officer, he operated in a system of authority where he needed only to give a command and it was carried out. He believed that Jesus carried the authority of God, and he needed only to say the word and the servant would be healed (Matthew 8:5-9; Luke 7:1-8).

Jesus saw that this Roman had more faith than the Jews. He used the incident to warn the Jews that many of them would be left out of God's kingdom, but Gentiles from countries far and near would, because of their faith, be included (Matthew 8:10-13; Luke 7:9-10).

In another northern town, Nain, Jesus raised a widow's son to life. It seems that in this case he acted not because of any request, but solely because of the pity he felt for the woman. With her husband and her only son dead, she was faced with hardship and poverty for the rest of her life. Jesus therefore stopped the funeral procession and gave her son back to her (Luke 7:11-17).


Verses 14-17

29. Many sick people healed (Matthew 4:23-25; Matthew 8:14-17; Mark 1:29-39; Luke 4:38-44)

Further examples of the ministry of Jesus show the presence and power of the kingdom of God in healing those afflicted by Satan (Matthew 4:23-25; Mark 1:29-34). (For the significance of the kingdom of God see earlier section, 'Jesus and the Kingdom'.) On one occasion when Jesus was staying in Capernaum, he went outside the town to find a quiet place to pray to his Father. Peter thought he was losing valuable opportunities, as the town was full of people looking for him. Jesus replied that no matter how many needy people were in Capernaum, he could not stay there all the time. He had to work and preach in other towns as well (Mark 1:35-39).


Verses 18-22

; Luk_9:57-62

81. The cost of being a disciple (Matthew 8:18-22; Luke 9:57-62)

Three men came to Jesus saying they wanted to be disciples, but they did not realize the sacrifices they would have to make in following Jesus. The first man was told to think seriously about his professed intentions, because following Jesus would bring with it physical hardship and discomfort (Luke 9:57-58). The second was warned that responsibilities towards Jesus must come before ordinary worldly responsibilities. The spiritually dead, whose interests are only in this life, can look after the everyday matters of life; the disciples of Jesus have to attend to the more important business of the kingdom of God (Luke 9:59-60). The third man was warned that Jesus' disciples must give themselves to him completely. There is no place for those whose real interests are elsewhere (Luke 9:61-62).


Verses 23-27

AROUND THE LAKE OF GALILEE

57. Jesus calms the storm (Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25)

A well known feature of Lake Galilee was that fierce storms blew up quickly. Jesus had suggested that the group sail across the lake, but the disciples expressed disappointment with him when a storm arose and he did nothing to help. Instead he was sleeping in the back of the boat, perhaps an indication of his tiredness from constant work (Mark 4:35-38).

The disciples still did not understand fully the divine power of Jesus, and he rebuked them for their lack of faith. When a word from him was sufficient to calm the wild forces of nature, they were struck with a mixture of wonder and fear. The sovereign Lord of creation was among them (Mark 4:39-41; cf. Psalms 89:9).


Verses 28-34

58. Demon power overcome at Gadara (Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39)

Another place that Jesus visited was the district to the east and south of the Lake of Galilee known as Gadara. The people were mainly Gentiles and were known as Gadarenes (sometimes as Gerasenes, after the chief town of the district, or even Gergesenes, after another local town) (Matthew 8:28; Mark 5:1). Jesus was met there by a man whose body had been cruelly taken over by demons. To release the man from his torment, Jesus commanded the demons to come out of him. The demons knew that Jesus was the Son of God and that one day he would judge them, but they were angry that he came to interfere with them before the appointed time (Matthew 8:29; Mark 5:2-8).

Jesus commanded the man to tell him his name, so that the man might see how great a power of evil had possessed him. The demons saw that judgment was upon them, and begged Jesus not to send them immediately to the place where evil spirits are punished (Mark 5:9-10; Luke 8:30-31).

The demons preferred to remain in the bodies of living things than go to the place of punishment. Therefore, if they were not allowed to remain in the man's body, they would rather enter the bodies of animals, even pigs. Jesus gave them their request, but they met their judgment nevertheless, for the pigs went mad and drowned in the sea. By sending the demons into the pigs, Jesus gave dramatic visible proof of his power over demons, and at the same time he showed to all what a vast number of demons had possessed the man (Mark 5:11-13).

To Jesus the life of one person was more important than the lives of two thousand pigs. The local villagers were more concerned about their farms and, fearful of what might happen if Jesus remained in the district any longer, begged him to leave (Mark 5:14-17). Jesus left, leaving the man to spread the good news of the Saviour throughout the area. Since these people were Gentiles, there was no need for the man to keep quiet about the miracle. Gentiles were not likely to use Jesus' messiahship for political purposes (Mark 5:18-20; cf. Matthew 8:4; Matthew 9:30; Matthew 12:16; John 6:14-15).

 


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Bibliography Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Matthew 8:4". "Brideway Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/matthew-8.html. 2005.

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