In today's study from Matthew 8:1-18, we take a closer look at the healing of a leper, a centurion's servant, Peter's mother-in-law, and discuss why our Lord did these healings.
Why Jesus Healed
vv.1-18 When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him. (2) And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. (3) And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. (4) 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. (5) And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, (6) And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. (7) A nd Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. (8) 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. (9) 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. (10) When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. (11) 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. (12) But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (13) 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. (14) And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever. (15) And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them. (16) 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: (17) That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses. (18) Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.
When Jesus finished the given of the Law, he came down and immediately healed three people. He healed a leper, a centurion’s servant and Peter’s mother-in-law. And then he went and cast demons out of some who were possessed.
Here are a few things that I want you to notice about this passage.
#1 The healings where a fulfillment of prophecy (v.17). Isa 53:4 “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”
#2 The healings demonstrated that He could cleanse their sins as well. Isaiah 53:5-6 “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities:” We also see this in the healing of the paralytic who was lowered down through the roof in Mark. Mar 2:5 “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, your sins are forgiven you."
#3 The healings testified to his deity. This is because he accepted their worship (8:2).
A Closer Look
Let’s take a closer look at each healing.
The Leper (vv.2-4)
Leprosy, or Hanson’s Disease as it is known today, was a contagious, mutilating, incurable disease that was normally fatal in biblical times. It wasn’t until the early 1980’s until a cure was invented.
Tell No One
I’ve always wondered why Jesus told folks on occasion to tell no one what He had done for them. I think that it was for two reasons. #1 He knew that if He became famous too quickly, it would lead to a quicker confrontation with the religious leaders and would expedite the cross. We find in the Mark’s account that the leper did not heed the instructions when it says that “he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter(Mark 1:45).
#2 It was to fulfill Scripture.
Mat 12:16-19 And charged them that they should not make him known: 17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 18 Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. 19 He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.
The Centurion (vv.5-13)
A centurion was a Roman soldier who commanded over 100 men. This soldier had Palsy which is a muscular disease that produces shaking like Parkinson’s disease or muscular fatigue like Bells palsy.
The Mother-In-Law (vv.14-18)
Really the only thing that stands out in this healing to me is the fact that Peter was married. This leads me to question why Catholic Priests are forbidden to marry today while stilling claiming that Peter was the first pope.
The Bible teaches that practically all of the early church leaders were married. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:5, “Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?” Also, two New Testament epistles advise that bishops should be married. Paul told Timothy and Titus in 1Ti 3:2 “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;”, and also in Tit 1:6 “If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.”
Old Testament Examples
Also, in the Old Testament, a life without children brought about shame. #1 God promised Abraham the blessing of many descendants (Gen 22:17). #2 When Rachael conceived her first child, she proclaimed, "God has taken away my shame" (Gen 30:23). #3 Jephthah's daughter, the tragic victim of her father's ill-made promise of human sacrifice, asked for two more months of life, in order specifically to mourn her virginity (Judges 11:37). #4 And among the promises the prophet Isaiah made to Israel was that she would no longer remember the dishonor of her widowhood. Isaiah 54:4 says, “Fear not; for thou shalt not be ashamed: neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame: for thou shalt forget the shame of thy youth, and shalt not remember the reproach of thy widowhood any more.”
In spite of all of that the Roman Catholic Church passed the requirement of celibacy into law in 1139 AD at the second Lateran Council. One of their foremost reasons was, and I quote, “The argument has to do with its high spiritual calling, but the rule also avoids the secularization of church property: If the priest has no descendants, no family can claim the property owned by the church.”