be-a-discipleSaturday, January 28, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Matthew 8-10

We pick up our reading in the Gospel of Matthew with Jesus having completed His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) [the mount being a hillside overlooking the Sea of Galilee]. From now to His death on the cross, a throng of people will follow Him as He preaches and performs miracles throughout Galilee, Samaria, and Judea.

Matthew 8-9 records many of the miracles Jesus performed in these first months of His public ministry.  

leprosyMatthew 8 records three healing miracles that attests to Jesus’s divine power and authority over nature.  The first miracle was the healing of a leper (8:2-4) who came expressing his faith in Jesus saying, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean” (8:2).  Leprosy, a dreaded skin disease that eats away at the flesh and appendages was a dreaded, incurable disease.  A leper’s life was that of an outcast; alienated from his family and society, his was a miserable, hopeless life (Isaiah 1:5-6).

The second miracle recorded after the Sermon on the Mount was the healing of a Roman centurion’s slave is (8:5-13). A centurion was commander of 100 soldiers in the Roman army and he was no doubt living in Judaea as part of Rome’s effort to keep the peace. Unlike a typical, battle-hardened Roman soldier, the Centurion had become sympathetic to, if not a proselyte of, Judaism.   The Jews said of him, “he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue” (Luke 7:5); thus endearing himself to the Jews of Capernaum.

The Centurion’s position or good works are not nearly as important as two essential qualities concerning his character in this passage. The first quality is the Centurion’s humility. In spite of his position, he came to Jesus confessing, “I am not worthy” (8:8-9). Humility is rare in the world, especially among the rich and powerful; however, knowing his servant was dying, the Centurion humbled himself and came to Jesus.centurion

A second essential quality was the evidence of the Centurion’s faith demonstrated in his request: “…speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed” (Matthew 8:8). The Centurion’s faith, evidenced in his confession, revealed he believed the laws of nature and healing was subservient to Jesus (8:8-10).

Jesus prophesied the Centurion was among the first of many Gentiles who would become citizens of heaven (“many shall come from the east and west” – 8:11), while many of the Jews (“children of the kingdom”) who rejected Jesus would be sentenced to hell (“outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” – 8:12).   Jesus rewarded the faith of the Centurion and healed his servant (8:13).

There are many spiritual lessons and truths found in today’s Bible reading (Matthew 8-10); however, time and space do not permit me to highlight them.  I close with a “First Claim Principle”:

Two men came to Jesus purposing to be His disciples. discipleship One man turned back when told a disciple must be willing to sacrifice earthly possessions and comforts (8:19-20) to follow Jesus.  A second man proposed to be a disciple; however, he wanted to wait for his father to die and his inheritance before following Him.

Lesson – No man can be a disciple, a true follower of Jesus, unless he is willing to sacrifice his personal ambitions and plans  (8:18-22).

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith