- Sermon Notes
Jesus Our Healer
March 5, 2023
ILLUS – A doctor’s prescription to save a man’s life
- There is something about an illness, a sickness, or a disease that can unsettle your soul.
- Once there is a diagnosis, the patient and their loved ones may feel isolated, vulnerable, and desperate.
- Tonight, we are going to look at the first seventeen verses of Matthew 8 and discover the heart of our Savior for those who feel isolated, vulnerable, and desperate.
- Along the way, we will also learn what kind of faith pleases God.
- Ultimately, we will be left with one conclusion, that Jesus truly is our Healer.
- In Matthew 8, we find Jesus in the northern end of the Sea of Galilee by His new hometown of Capernaum.
- Jesus had just finished what has been called His Sermon on the Mount in which He told the people of Israel about the kingdom of heaven, its standards and who will be invited to enter it.
- After the Sermon on the Mount, we are told that the crowds were amazed by His teaching because “He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (7:29).
- The events that unfolded next demonstrated Jesus’ power and authority. He had spoken as one having authority, now Jesus revealed His power and authority over all creation in Matthew 8-9.
- There are ten miracles recorded in these two chapters, each have profound applications for our lives. We will focus on the first three this evening.
I. Jesus has the Authority to Make Us Clean
These verses record an amazing miracle that has sparked much debate.
But Jesus explained the purpose of the miracle, so it is important for us to understand the meaning as well.
To understand what Jesus revealed through this miracle, we must understand some things about leprosy.
A. Leprosy is a picture of sin
- Leprosy was an incurable disease. Without divine intervention, those infected were sentenced to a lonely, torturous existence which ultimately resulted in their death.
- Some forms of leprosy begin with little nodules that ulcerate and eventually produce a foul discharge. Over time the. . .
a. Eyebrows and hair fall out.
b. Hands and feet ulcerate and eventually the whole body becomes a mass of leprous growths.
c. Vocal cords also become infected so that the leper’s voice becomes hoarse.
d. This form of leprosy lasts approximately nine years and ends in mental decay, a coma, followed by death.
Quote: “It’s doubtful that there is any disease that so completely reduces the human being in his body to so foul and hideous and repulsive a wreck.” (Dr. S. Lewis Johnson)
- In Leviticus 13, we see that leprosy is a picture of what sin does to a person.
a. It goes deeper than the skin (3).
b. It spreads (7).
c. It defiles those infected (44-45).
d. It isolates one from God and man (46).
i. Those infected were not permitted to attend any of the prescribed feasts or sacrifices in Jerusalem.
ii. They lived outside of the camp and whenever they came upon another person they had to move away and shout, “Unclean! Unclean!”
e. Whatever they touched was defiled.
f. Any defiled clothing was destroyed by fire (52).
4. Because of their sin, the nation of Israel was pictured as being defiled by leprosy.
Isaiah 1:5-6, Where will you be stricken again, as you continue in your rebellion? The whole head is sick and the whole heart is faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head there is nothing sound in it, only bruises, welts and raw wounds, not pressed out or bandaged, nor softened with oil.
APPL – In many ways, leprosy is a picture of what sin has done to all of us.
- Spiritually speaking, we are all lepers in need of a supernatural intervention, a divine, cleansing touch.
- The good news is. . .
B. Jesus is willing and able to cleanse us
- Perhaps the leper stood at distance when Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount and there was a ray of hope when he heard Jesus say. . .
Matthew 7:7, Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
- As Jesus came down from the mountain, the leper gained enough courage to ask, to seek, and knock. He believed if Jesus was willing, then he would be cleansed.
- So, this isolated, vulnerable, and desperate man bowed down in worship and cried out to Jesus with a hoarse voice, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
- Personally, I find what happens next to be one of the most moving interactions in the Bible because we are told that before Jesus said a word to the leper He touched him, a man who had not been touched since the priest had declared him unclean (3).
a. Medically speaking, touching a leper meant exposure to an incurable disease.
b. Spiritually speaking, touching a leper meant ceremonial defilement.
c. Yet, Jesus touched the defiled man and was not defiled because all who are touched by Jesus are made clean.
d. Then the leper heard the words from our Savior’s lips that not only ministered to his soul, it changed the rest of his life.
APPL – “I am willing; be cleansed” (3). Here we see the heart of our God and Savior. Sin makes a mess of our lives. It defiles, isolates, and destroys.
Truth be told, we know this is so and that’s why many feel compelled to clean up their mess with the hope that they might somehow make things right without divine intervention.
But Jesus invites us to give Him our mess because we will never be able to clean it up without Him.
And once we confess our need for Jesus’ cleansing touch, He will touch our lives and make us clean.
Jesus’ words to the leper that day are just as true for us today, “I am willing; be cleansed.”
Jesus’ willingness and ability to cleanse us changes everything, now and for eternity.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
APPL – Unfortunately, some have wrongly interpreted Jesus’ words to mean that all people will be healed, even making it the focal point of their “healing ministries.” In fact, they will go so far as to say that if a person is not healed it is due to personal sin or a lack of faith.
ILLUS – The death of my friend’s wife after childbirth
- Does God still heal today? Yes.
ILLUS – Praying for a man stricken with malaria
- Does God always heal? No.
1 Timothy 5:23, No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.
2 Timothy 4:20, Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus.
APPL – Again, “Does God always heal?” No.
- That said, God always cleanses those who ask through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
- We must remember that in the Bible leprosy is a picture of our sin.
- It is for this reason that God the Father sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to cleanse all who ask for their sins to be forgiven.
1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- Verse 4 is the key to understanding this passage.
- Jesus said to the leper after he was cleansed, “present the offering that Moses commanded, for a testimony to them.”
a. God gave Israel a provision in the Law so that if a leper was healed he was to bring an offering before God.
Leviticus 14:1-7, Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing. Now he shall be brought to the priest, and the priest shall go out to the outside of the camp. Thus the priest shall look, and if the infection of leprosy has been healed in the leper, then the priest shall give orders to take two live clean birds and cedar wood and a scarlet string and hyssop for the one who is to be cleansed. The priest shall also give orders to slay the one bird in an earthenware vessel over running water. As for the live bird, he shall take it together with the cedar wood and the scarlet string and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the live bird in the blood of the bird that was slain over the running water. He shall then sprinkle seven times the one who is to be cleansed from the leprosy and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the live bird go free over the open field.
b. This ceremony for the cleansed leper is a picture of what Jesus Christ did for us.
The bird sacrificed over running water is a picture of Christ dying for us to cleanse and wash away our sin.
The sprinkling of the leper seven times is a picture of us being completely forgiven of our sin.
The bird that was set free is a picture of Christ’s resurrection and the freedom we have in Christ to live forever with Him and for Him.
c. Unfortunately, prior to this miracle recorded in Matthew 8, there never was a ceremony for a cleansed leper in Israel’s history. So, you can imagine the commotion this would have caused when this cleansed leper appeared before the priests at the Temple. All of the people would have to ask, “Who is Jesus?”
APPL – The cleansing of the leper was a divine testimony that Israel’s Messiah had come. It is a divine testimony for us as well so that we may know that Jesus is the Christ, that we may place our faith in Him who cleanses us from the guilt and penalty our sin deserves.
II. Jesus has the Authority Over All Sickness
The next account is equally amazing.
A Roman centurion, a leader of one hundred soldiers, came to Jesus because his servant, a boy, was paralyzed, in great pain, and about to die.
Slaves were considered property at that time. The fact that the centurion was concerned for his slave speaks volumes about this man’s character.
In addition, Luke 7:4-5 tells us this centurion was respected by the Jews because he loved Israel and even built a synagogue for them.
Upon hearing the request, Jesus offered to go to the centurion’s home and heal his slave (7).
The centurion’s response revealed that he had an amazing understanding not only of who Jesus is but also the reason Jesus had such great authority.
There are important principles that we can learn from his example.
A. We must welcome Christ’s authority over our lives
- He said, “I am not worthy for You to come under my roof; just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I, too, am a man under authority” (8-9).
- Note his humility. Though he was a Roman centurion occupying a conquered people, he recognized the greatness of Jesus.
- Next, note his sensitivity. As a Gentile, he was concerned that Jesus, a Jew, would become ceremonially defiled if He entered his home.
- Finally, note his estimation of Jesus. He recognized the essence of authority because it determines what happens. “I say to my servant, ‘Go,’ and he goes” (9).
ILLUS – Governor Herter’s run-in with the chicken lady
APPL – Authority determines what happens. The key is for us to be under the authority of Jesus.
- But to be truly under authority is to do so with a willing heart.
- If a person is only halfheartedly cooperating, it’s called “passive rebellion.”
Isaiah 29:13, Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote
- God wants us to wholeheartedly welcome Christ’s authority over our lives.
B. We need the kind of faith that Jesus praises
- “Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled, and said to those who were following, ‘Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel’” (10).
a. The word “marveled” or “amazed” is used only two times in the Gospels with reference to how Jesus felt about the response to His person and ministry.
b. Here Jesus praises the faith of the Gentile centurion.
c. But in Mark 6, we’re told that Jesus did not do many miracles in His childhood hometown of Nazareth because of their unbelief.
Mark 6:6, He was amazed at their lack of faith. (NIV)
- What kind of faith does Jesus praise? We must define “faith” to answer this question.
a. Faith involves knowledge. It is an intellectual knowledge of the truth.
b. Faith includes acceptance. It is an acceptance of the truth as being true.
c. Finally, faith involves personal trust. It must be embraced personally.
3. This is biblical faith. This is the faith that pleases God because it looks at the facts, acknowledges the truth as being true, and then trusts wholeheartedly so that the truth is applied to one’s life and changes one’s heart, mind, and soul.
Hebrews 11:6, And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
- Jesus declared that this Gentile centurion would be the first of many Gentiles to enter the kingdom of heaven when He said that “many shall come from the east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” but “the sons of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness” because of their unbelief (11-12).
- Then Jesus said, “Go your way; let it be done to you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very moment (13).
APPL – First a leper and then the slave of Gentile centurion. Both were outcasts from the community of Israel, yet Jesus cleansed the one and healed the other.
Lastly, Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law.
She was bedridden with a fever, but Jesus had compassion on her too and healed her.
Even things like a fever matter to our Savior.
Matthew, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, declared that each of these healings, and many more like them, were a sign, a confirmation that Jesus is the Messiah.
His actions were a fulfillment of Messianic prophesy.
Isaiah 53:4, Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,smitten of God, and afflicted.
APPL – Our Savior is not only concerned about our eternal destiny, He is mindful of our needs now.
- Do you need His healing touch on your life?
- Ask, seek, and knock.
- Bring your needs to Jesus and let Him change your life and heal your heart.
- Jesus will cleanse.
- He will forgive.
- Jesus is truly our Healer.
Matthew 8:1-17 NASB