Matthew 8 – Our Inner Demons

JESUS HEALS A MAN WITH LEPROSY

Among all the diseases that prevailed during those days, leprosy was the most frowned upon disease. The affected person apart from physical suffering has to go through complete isolation from everyone. They were driven outside the city and were left to fend for themselves. These people were deprived of their families, their homes, their livelihoods, communication and most importantly deprived of being touched by someone.

Amid the current pandemic, we realize how much we depend on human contact and communication. When this man with leprosy came to Jesus, he humbly knelt and asked for healing.

A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

Matthew 8:2

The man had faith that Jesus could heal him, hence he only asked for His willingness to heal. Jesus showed compassion on this guy and did something no one would have expected. He touched the man. It was a small act but one which shows us the great love that Christ Jesus has for us.

Jesus healed the man and asked him to show himself to the priest and give offerings like Moses had commanded. This showed that Jesus had come not to break the old laws but to reaffirm them. Moreover according to the laws, only the priest could give the leper re-entry into society after giving him a clean bill of health.

THE FAITH OF THE CENTURION

A centurion is a Roman commander who usually has many people working under him (~80 to 100). In this passage, we see a centurion asking Jesus to heal his servant. We note two things from the centurion’s behaviour. Despite being an official under whom many were working, we see the thoughtfulness and concern he had towards his servant and that the centurion showed great display of faith and humility.

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.

Matthew 8:8

In a time where the Jews were struggling with their faith, this gentile officer showed us the perfect example of faith to the extent that Jesus was amazed by such great faith.

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Matthew 8: 10-12

Jesus points out that many believers from outside the Jewish community, will eventually be feasting in heaven because of their faith in Christ. But people who do not have faith in the Son of God, would rather trust their own acts or sacrifices.

After that, Jesus told the centurion that his servant will be healed and sent him away and it happened the exact same moment when Jesus had said these words.

JESUS HEALS MANY

Jesus visited Peter’s house and healed his mother-in-law who was lying in bed with fever. Her gratitude is seen by her immediately serving Him after she received healing.

Matthew uses the healing to remind us how Jesus came to fulfill the prophecies of the old testament.

When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.”

Matthew 8:16‭-‬17

THE COST OF FOLLOWING JESUS

In this passage, we see two people telling Jesus that they wanted to follow Him. The first one was a teacher of law. When he expressed his desire, Jesus showed him the reality of the situation.

Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

Matthew 8:20

Sharks in the sea are usually accompanied by small fishes swimming very close to them. These small fishes are Pilot fish. They follow sharks because other animals which might eat them will not come near a shark. Likewise, human beings also follow people for their own benefits like wealth, fame, protection etc. Jesus insists on forsaking our own selfish desires and following God wholeheartedly.

The second person was a disciple who also wanted to follow Jesus but wanted permission to bury his father and rejoin Jesus on His journey. His father could have been dead already and he might have just wanted to finish the rituals. Else, his father could have been sick and on the verge of death. Regardless of the condition, this disciple wanted to complete his duties as a son and then follow Jesus

But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

Matthew 8:22

Jesus seemed to use harsh words but what he meant is that we should not use our worldly responsibilities as an excuse if we really want to follow Him.

Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’

Matthew 22:37

JESUS CALMS THE STORM

Jesus and his disciples were traveling in a boat when they were met with a furious storm. The disciples started panicking as the waves swept over the boat while Jesus was fast asleep.

As humans, our first reaction in such situations is fear, even though some of the disciples were fishermen and must have faced lot of storms before, yet they failed to conquer their fear. These disciples were following Jesus and witnessing the miracles and healings by Him, but were unable to keep up their faith during a storm. In this panicked state, they woke up Jesus to save them form the storm when He rebuked them for their lack of faith.

He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

Matthew 8:26‭-‬27

Many a times while facing difficulties, we tend to forget our God who is the creator of the Heavens and the Earth. Our fear overcomes our faith in God but Jesus repeatedly gives importance to faith as it is an integral part of our walk with Him.

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Matthew 17:20

JESUS RESTORES TWO DEMON-POSSESSED MEN

When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way.

Matthew 8:28

As Jesus drew near to them, these demons started crying out to Him. They immediately acknowledged Him as the Son of God. Just the presence of Jesus was enough for them to start trembling. They also acknowledged that when the appointed time by God comes, their eternal torture in inevitable.

“What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water.

Matthew 8:29‭-‬32

The demons were so scared of their fate that they begged Jesus to allow them to go into the herd of pigs. It shows how God is in control of everything. Surprisingly, Jesus allows the demons to enter into the pigs and the animals meet a tragic end. It shows what happens when we depend on evil rather than God in our lives and how it will end.

Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.

Matthew 8:33‭-‬34

This region clearly had gentiles as indicated by the herd of pigs. The whole town after witnessing a miracle asked Jesus to leave. It could have been the loss of livestock or maybe even fear of an inner change that made these people hostile towards God. Sometimes when God is convicting us of something our immediate response is to run away from Him rather than take His help in confronting our inner demons.

Do we get involved in worldly matters so much that we forget about God?
Are we afraid of the changes in our lives if we have to follow God?
Do we have faith like the centurion or do we get scared like the disciples during the storms of our lives?

Let us keep our faith in God and allow him to work in our lives so that we may ourselves be a witness to the changes in our lives.

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