I wrote this a year ago, but it struck me the other day so I’m posting it again. Enjoy
Yesterday’s sermon was thought provoking, not necessarily because of the application, but some interesting insights in the passage. The text was Matthew 8 where Jesus heals the leper, the centurion’s servant and Peter’s mother-in-law.
Peter Leithart showed this passage as one of a pattern in which Matthew shows Jesus’ miracles, followed by an explanation of Jesus’ ministry and finally a “call to discipleship” If you read Matthew 8-10, you will see this pattern repeated in Matt 8:1-22, Matt 8:23-9:17 and Matt 9:18-10:42.
Within Matthew 8, we see several applications that I want to teach my own children and learn these myself.
1. Do you really believe?
The leper comes to Jesus believing he can be healed as he says, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
Do you really believe God can heal your problems, whether they are physical, job-related, familial, marital, financial? Can God really heal your situation?
2. Will you help anyone in need, even the wierdos around you?
Jesus does not withdraw from the outcast. In fact, he touches the unclean. Jews at this time would have nothing to do with lepers and were usually repulsed by them. In a few short sentences, it’s difficult to convey the distain that society had for lepers. On the other hand, Jesus shows us how we ought to treat the outcasts around us.
Does God ever place people in your life that turn your stomach? You know, you really don’t want to be around them because they are weird.
3. Will you help those who might come back & hurt you?
Not only is the leper an outcast, the centurion is also an outcast to the Jewish community. Most Jews would not help him during this time period. Think about it, the centurion is a Gentile, a Roman, a military commander (against the Jews). In the near future, he might call up his troops to destroy the Jews. Ironically, Jesus declares, “I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel.” This Roman centurion has more faith than the Jews, God’s chosen people.
Jesus heals the centurion’s servant with just a word. He knew the times were changing from Jews to Gentiles. He also elevated the Roman centurion above the Jews due to his faith.
4. Jesus is the only solution to your problems.
After these miracles are described, Matthew reminds us of Isaiah’s words.
“He Himself took our infirmities And bore our sickness.” This often refers to Christ taking your sins upon the cross, but it also refers to Jesus taking our infirmities, weaknesses and disease upon Himself.
Discipleship is not just about “you” being saved & healed; it’s about you being healed so you can go be a healer, too. When you are saved, you are caught up in Christ’s river of life. So much so, that you can’t help yourself to reach out and “heal” those in need around you.
5. What model of discipleship will you follow?
After modeling discipleship to His disciples, Matthew further explains the cost of being Christ’s discipleship. When one of his disciples asked Jesus if he could “first go and bury (his) father”, Jesus tells him to “Follow Me”. I’ve often thought this man’s dad just died and Jesus won’t even let him bury him properly. This isn’t really the case. If that man’s dad had just died, he would not be talking to Jesus but instead making funeral preparations. This disciple wanted to care for his dad in old age and then follow Jesus Christ. Taking care of the elderly was very important to Jews, so he was following the pattern of those around him.
What we learn in this story is that even good & right family obligations must be put aside to follow Jesus Christ. Following Jesus trumps all other obligations.
Are you reaching out to the outcast, those you think are weirdos in your life?
Are you modeling this so your children will help those around them, too?
Are you placing Jesus Christ above all other obligations?
Or, do you put Him on the back burner so you can give your kids the best