Thursday, May 05, 2011

Matthew 8:1-4


In Matthew 5-7 Jesus answers the question that was in the minds of those who had been observing His actions and hearing His words. That question was, "Jesus, how does your teaching differ from what we've been taught growing up?" Jesus answers this question in a most powerful way by articulating His new Kingdom manifesto.

Then, Matthew sets aside chapters 8 through 12 as the miracle section of his gospel message. Remember, the gospel of Matthew presents Jesus as the King to a Jewish audience. Within the Jewish community over the years lots of traditions were accumulated. One of these traditions had to do with the miracles the Messiah would perform when he showed up. There were three of them:

FIRST-The Jews believed that when the Messiah shows up, he will be able to heal a person who is born blind. SECOND-When the Messiah comes, he will heal a person of leprosy. THIRD-When the Messiah comes, he will be able to cast demons out of a person who cannot hear or cannot speak.

In Matthew's miracle section he begins with the healing of a leper here in chapter 8 and he ends the section in chapter 12 with the healing of a man who couldn't hear or speak. Let's check out how Jesus deals with the leper who comes to Him.

1 When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. 2 A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." 3 Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy. 4 Then Jesus said to him, "See that you don't tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."

This miracle will prove to be a real tip-off that this new Rabbi is not just another teacher making his way around the community. This one is very different. NOTE what Jesus says to the leper after He immediately cleansed him. He says, "See that you don't tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony."

Here's my thinking on this. Jesus was using a very reliable marketing practice. You see, every priest had learned how to perform all of the sacrifices that were given in the Mosaic Law. They all had learned the appropriate thing to do to declare a leper genuinely cleansed. But up until this point, no priest had ever performed this ceremonial cleansing, because no leper had been cleansed. Now, if you were the local priest and a leper came to you with his request for ceremonial cleansing, what would you do? You're going to be the first priest ever to perform this ceremony. Don't you think you would call the local papers and news agencies? I mean, this is news, big news and you would let everyone one you ever knew know about this unique happening. This was ingenious!

The three miracles the Jews were looking for the Messiah to perform were based upon their traditions. These weren't set forth in the Scriptures as THE THREE miracles the Messiah was to perform. These were the three that stood out as the most popular traditional Messianic expectations. What I think is most interesting here is Jesus was not bound to perform these miracles. He performed them as an accommodation to the Jewish people and their culture. This is why Jesus is so attractive and irresistible. Jesus is relentless in His efforts to reach out to everyone everywhere! He'll use every opportunity to touch every person on the planet.

Remember, all Jesus requires is that you be interested. And, in the words of Jesus being interested is having ears to hear and eyes to see. Simply put, this means ears to hear what Jesus says and eyes to see what Jesus does. Once you see what Jesus does and hear what Jesus says, there is only one proper response and that is to practice what you hear and see in your own life-to be like Jesus wherever you are.