SECTION 3: THE CREDENTIALS OF JESUS THE KING
THE FIRST GROUP OF MIRACLES
THE BENEFITS OF FOLLOWING JESUS
Scripture To Consider:
“When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. And behold, a leper came and worshipped Him, saying, ‘Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.’ Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”
“And Jesus said to him, ‘See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.’“ Matthew 8.1-4
Something To Consider:
Following the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew introduces ten miracles, in which he arranges in three impressive groups. They form an integral part of the narrative. To deny the miracles or to remove them from the gospel would leave an unmeaning and mutilated story. In the sermon, Jesus claimed to be divine and the universal King. Here He is shown to be worthy of submission and trust.
The miracles are Jesus’ credentials. We need not only the teachings of Christ, we need His healing touch; and each miracle is a parable of His divine saving power. The first of these supernatural works recorded by Matthew is the healing of a leper. It is possible that this was a suggestion that the first need of the nation was spiritual cleansing, and that this need must be supplied before the blessings of the promised kingdom could be enjoyed.
Surely, leprosy is the familiar and accepted type of sin as portrayed in the bible. Its victim sadly became a mass of festering sores. The person was shut off from his or her fellow human beings, while being regarded with loathing disgust or pity, and enduring a living death. Such was the case of the poor sufferer who came to Jesus worshipping Him and saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
This suffering leper believed in the power of Jesus, but he feared himself unworthy to be cured. Therefore, Jesus stretched forth His hand and touched him, to show His sympathy, in order to strengthen the faith of the leper, and to assure us that He welcomes the foulest of sinners who willingly come unto Him.
Then Jesus spoke these majestic words, “I am willing; be cleansed.” How natural these words sound on the lips of Jesus! Can we imagine Him saying, “I am sorry for you, but I can give you no help; I advise you to adopt some remedy or to resort to some human physician”? No, belief in a divine Savior makes it easy to accept the truth of His divine works. Therefore, Matthew declared, “And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”
The completeness and instantaneousness of the cure form a striking feature of the miracle and suggest to us the power of Christ to give immediate relief from the stain, guilt, shame, and power of sin. And after Jesus’ healing the man, He commanded him to not tell others of his being cured.
Some have claimed Jesus meant to avoid a noisy publicity which might have aroused fanaticism and created such excitement as to interfere with His teaching. And yet, today, Jesus desires all who are cured to testify of His grace which is indeed sufficient. He also commanded the man to show himself to the priest and to observe the customs commanded by Moses concerning the cleansing of leprosy.
Jesus did not hesitate to break a ceremonial law in touching the leprous man when this was necessary for his being cured. In contrast, He told the man to keep the ceremonial law, when no higher law interfered and when a failure to do so might have resulted in misunderstanding and offense. This is indeed something to consider!
More Scripture To Consider:
“Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him pleading with Him, saying, ‘Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘I will come and heal him.’ The centurion answered and said to him, ‘I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me. And I say to this one, “Go,” and he goes; and to another, “Come,” and he comes; and to my servant, “Do this,” and he does it.'”
“When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from the east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’“
“Then Jesus said to the centurion, ‘Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.’ And his servant was healed that same hour.” Matthew 8.5-13
Something Else To Consider:
Leprosy was a type of the loathsomeness of sin. Paralysis may be regarded as a symbol of its helplessness. As the cure of the leper reveals the power of Christ, this true story emphasizes the necessity of faith in Jesus. The centurion, or Roman military commander of Capernaum, was evidently a man of the same high character attributed to all similar soldiers in the New Testament. Moved by sympathy for this suffering servant the centurium appealed to Jesus for relief and on receiving the promise of the Master to come and heal him, he gave his surprising reply, revealing his remarkable faith.
The Roman commander declared that as he himself knew what it was to obey, and to be obeyed, so he was certain that Jesus had need only speak a word, and not to come to his house, and Christ’s command would be fulfilled, and the servant would be healed. His humanity and his trust were so extraordinary that Jesus declared, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!”
Then Jesus added a truth which must have startled those Jewish listeners standing nearby. Using as a figure of speech, the picture of a banquet, to describe the joys of the kingdom of heaven, Jesus declared that many Gentiles would be admitted into the kingdom, while from it many Jews would be excluded!
The faith of such a Roman centurion was a prophecy of such Gentile converts, and in response to his faith Jesus spoke the word of blessed assurance, by stating; “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.” Therefore, this gospel, which is said to have been written for the Jews, contains unsurpassed promises of future blessings for all nations of the world!
More Scripture To Consider:
“Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever. And Jesus touched her hand, and the fever left her. Then she arose and served them.”
“When evening had come, they brought to Jesus many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: ‘He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.'” Matthew 8.14-17
Something Else To Consider:
The third example of the power of Jesus over disease was given in the home of His disciple, Simon Peter. Here the suffering mother-in-law was distressed with a fever, a form of disease which may suggest the anxiety, the fear, the worry, the temper, and the haste, which may be found in the homes of even the closest followers of Jesus Christ. And yet, the touch of Jesus’ hand spoke of His sympathy and love; and it was a touch of power, for the fever left her. Yet it did not leave her weak and helpless, as many fevers do.
Therefore, the cure was immediate and complete, for she arose and ministered unto them by serving them. In countless homes today, hearts soothed by the healing touch of Christ are rendering to Him and to others the service of grateful love. The report of this cure, or similar miracles, brought to Peter’s door a great multitude of those who suffered from demons and disease, and Jesus healed them all.
In this gracious ministry, Matthew, whose gospel is linked to the Old Testament by continual quotations, finds fulfillment of the prediction of Isaiah, by the statement; “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.” The prophecy was fulfilled partly in the burden of sympathy felt for those He was healing; but more perfectly was it fulfilled when He bore our sins in His body upon the tree at Calvary.
Something More To Consider:
The benefits of following Jesus are communicated very clearly in our Scripture texts we are considering. The centurion’s faith in Jesus was acknowledged by Jesus as something which was worthy of His marveling. Jesus’ exact words were, “I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!” When was the last time, if ever, that could be said of our faith?
And yet, the writer of Hebrews 11.6 reminds us, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” In other words, faith is just one of the many benefits we gain by our following Jesus. Of course, Peter’s wife’s mother certainly benefited from following Jesus, and so did the entire entourage that followed Jesus.
The others benefited greatly by Jesus’ healing Peter’s mother-in-law because according to Matthew’s eyewitness account; “And Jesus touched her hand and the fever left her; and she arose and served them.” And yet, this healing miracle also benefited what appears to be an entire village if not the surrounding towns of individuals in need of healing, for Jesus healed them all.
Now for some, this raises the question of why not all who request healing today, are not physically healed? That particular question and ever continuing debate may never be answered to our human satisfaction this side of eternity. And at that moment in time, the answer will really not matter! But what we do know is what Matthew recorded concerning these healings and casting out of demons.
For Matthew quotes from the book of Isaiah, by declaring; “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, ‘He Himself [Jesus] took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.'” And therefore, we thank God for what Jesus has accomplished for every single believer. Jesus indeed has borne our sickness of sin all the way to the cross of Calvary for our individual sin.
A Few Final Words:
I have chosen to leave for last our first Scripture to consider concerning one single suffering leper, with evidently faith enough in Jesus to be instantaneously healed and cleansed of his dreadful disease of leprosy. We should notice that multitudes followed Jesus as He descended the mountain on which He had preached His most famous Sermon on the Mount, laying out His rules for true righteousness. And yet, we are told of only one, a leper, an outcast of society, approached Jesus to make his request for healing.
This leper’s request, his prayer, is of the utmost importance and value as we attempt to understand and grasp its significance intellectually as well as spiritually. First and foremost, the leper, who does indeed biblically represent all individual sinners from every generation, gender, and nation; came to Jesus and worshipped Him, declaring, “Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean.” If You Lord, if You are willing!
That is the all-important ingredient in any request, in any prayer for healing. It should not be missing from our dialog with our heavenly Father. If it is according to Your plan Father for my life, for my son’s life, for my daughter’s life, for my spouse’s life, You can make us clean. And if we are speaking spiritually, we know according to 2 Peter 3.9; “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
Yes, God is willing that all receive their spiritual healing from the loathsome disease of sin. This is indeed an amazing and graceful benefit of our following Jesus. And when and if men, women, and young people will approach Jesus as did this leper and worship Him, Jesus will indeed apply the balm of Gilead and meet every request for spiritual healing for all who follow Him and follow His examples.
Yes, there are a multitude of benefits to our following Jesus, of which none are more important than our being spiritually cleansed of a lifelong heaviness of sin! And with every sincere coming and requesting, Jesus bestows upon us eternal benefits that no eye has seen, nor ear heard!
Our Father in heaven, thank You for Your revealing to us these and other biblical miracles fulfilled by Jesus our great and exceeding reward. Thank You for Your allowing us to partake in the many eternal benefits of our following Jesus. May we become more like Him in what is left of our lives here on planet earth. In Him Always, Amen!