Matthewby Mike Raiter
There were two features of Jesus' ministry: teaching and healing. Matthew 4:23 and 9:35 tell us that Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and illness among the people. These two almost identical verses are like bookends to chapters 5 to 9. In chapters 5, 6, and 7, we are given an example of Jesus' teaching and preaching, and then in chapters 8 and 9 we are given examples of His works of power.
In chapters 8 and 9, Matthew presents nine miracles of Jesus, which display the wide spectrum of His powerful works: people are healed, a storm is stilled, demons cast out, a dead girl is raised, and blind people receive their sight. The nine miracles are arranged in three groups of three (Matthew 8:1-17; 8:23-9:8; 9:18-34) and after each threesome, there is a call to follow Jesus (8:18-22; 9:9-17; 9:36-38).
In Matthew 8:1-17, Jesus displays His power and compassion to individuals belonging to three of the most marginalised groups in Jewish society: a leper (vv. 1-3), a Gentile (vv. 5-13), and a woman (vv. 14-15).
Having the power to heal is one thing, being willing to do so is another. The leper asks, ″If you are willing, you can make me clean″ (v. 2). He has no doubt about Jesus' power, but he needs assurance of Jesus' willingness. Jesus responds, ″I am willing . . . be clean″ (v. 3). Similarly, in the next story, a Gentile centurion knows of the authority of Jesus. Indeed, so powerful is the word of Jesus that the centurion believes He can effect a healing simply by speaking-from a distance. Again, Jesus has both the authority and the compassion. Finally, there is the healing of Peter's mother-in-law. All three miracles reveal the power of Jesus' words and the compassion of His heart.
Throughout these chapters we meet the unique authority of Jesus. During His Sermon on the Mount, the crowds are amazed at the authority of His words (Matthew 7:29), and here they stand in awe of the authority of His works. Jesus still exercises the same authority today. We are invited to personally believe in both His power to teach and transform, and His deep desire to do so.
What causes us to doubt the power of Jesus? What causes us to doubt His compassion and willingness to help us?
Look at Matthew 8:10-12. What is Jesus saying about the sort of people who will be with Him in the age to come?