Must faith in God be accompanied by obedience?
In this lesson, we see Jesus’ authority over various diseases, over nature itself, and even the power of demons. Christ’s power didn’t always come without some kind of human response.
Matthew 8:1-17—Loving the Unlovely and Outcasts
This passage contains three healings: A leper, a centurion’s servant who was paralyzed, and Peter’s mother-in-law sick with fever. In the first and last, Jesus touches those who might be contagious. The leper was not to be contacted for fear of defilement, perhaps ritual defilement more than physical. In the middle story, where the Centurion’s faith is commended, Jesus heals over a distance without ever coming into the man’s home. Verse 17 sums up this section with a quotation from the Isa 53 suggesting Jesus’ fulfillment of the prophet’s words: Jesus bore our diseases!
What do these healings suggest about 1) Jesus’ attitude toward physical infirmity, 2) God’s relationship to the “outcasts” in society, and 3) my approach to people with “unclean” problems and diseases?
Matthew 8:23-27—Storm on the Sea
When traveling by boat across Galilee, a storm arose, covering the boat with waves. The disciples wake the sleeping Jesus pleading for Him to save them. He rebukes both the wind and their faith: in the Greek, He calls them cowardly and “little-faith ones.”
Did the disciples have reason to fear? Did Jesus answer their request as they expected Him to? What makes faith so hard when times are difficult?
Matthew 8:28-34—Setting Demoniacs Free
The disciples and Jesus are met on the other side of Galilee by two demon-possessed men. Jesus casts the demons out into herds of swine. We see little in Matthew of the demoniac’s post-exorcism experience like we find in Mark 5; the focus is definitely on Jesus and His authority to command them. Jesus only speaks once in Matthew, an imperative: “Go!”
Is there a need for this kind of healing today? Demon possession isn’t something psychologists or medical doctors probably explore in their textbooks, so is it still a real diagnosis?
Matthew 9:1-8—Get up and walk!
Mark 2:1-12 records the story of paralyzed man lowered through a roof by his friends. Matthew’s story is perhaps the same, but without mention of the roof or the friends. In both cases, Jesus first forgives the man’s sins, then commands the paralytic to get up, take his mat, and head home. The people watching are amazed when the man gets up and does as Jesus said.
Do you think there is a connection between spiritual healing and physical health? Is it possible to suffer physical ailments because of inner spiritual/mental/emotional turmoil?
When I read Romans, Galatians and Ephesians by Paul, I get the idea that we are saved by our faith apart from works. Could this man have been healed without getting up? What is the role of obedience in our Christian faith?
Jesus’ healing sometimes seemed predicated on the sick carrying out a small, but specific action, such as getting up, carrying a mat, or washing in a pool. Faith required action in order to prove its validity. For example to say I trust in airplanes to carry me in flight is only proven by getting in and flying. Words alone are insufficient for the word “trust.”