WEDNESDAY, APRIL 5
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 8
Chapters 8 and 9 really are a single unit in this Gospel. The two chapters provide a record of ten different miracles. Have you ever wondered why Jesus performed miracles? One reason is Jesus really cares about people. So, He often used His power to bring incredible benefit to others even while He was doing without. Another reason is Jesus’ miracles is one of the ways He proved His identity. Miracles are not the only evidence of His divine identity. There are others in the Bible who performed miracles. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 suggests that even Satan can perform “miracles”. But Jesus’ ability to perform miracles coupled with His character and conduct are inarguable evidence of who He is.
Let’s look at some of the miracles He performed.
The first one in chapter 8 involved a man who was a leper. Since we are not real familiar with leprosy, it might be helpful to give you a little background. Leprosy was a horribly contagious, usually incurable, fatal disease. It was so feared in the days that Jesus walked on the earth, that there were leper colonies for lepers to live in away from others. And if a leper ever “came to town”, he had to continually shout “Unclean” to give others the opportunity to create a lot of space between them and the infected one.
In this story, the leper violates that rule. He walks right up to Jesus, kneels, and asks for healing. Then Jesus violated a huge rule. He touched that leper. Nobody did that. Ever. That was a sure fire way to catch leprosy. Now Jesus was ceremonially unclean. But the man was miraculously clean.
In Isaiah 1, the Bible uses leprosy as an illustration for sin. So, if you apply that illustration to this story, Jesus comes to take away the sin of this man. That’s pretty cool.
The next miracle had to do with a Centurion’s servant who was paralyzed. A Centurion was a Roman army officer with responsibilities for at least 100 people. For the religiously elite folk in Israel, having anything to do with a Roman soldier was almost as bad as intentionally touching a leper. But that didn’t hinder Jesus. After an interesting conversation with the Centurion, Jesus simply spoke the word and servant was healed.
The third miracle had to do with Peter’s mother-in-law. She was sick with a fever. Here’s a little reminder for you. The religiously elite folks in Israel didn’t have a lot to do with women either. In fact, women were second class citizens at best. And no self-respecting Jew would physically touch a woman he was wasn’t married to. But Jesus touched this woman and she was immediately healed.
So, what are we to learn from these three miracles? Obviously, we are to learn that Jesus can indeed perform miracles. Secondly, we are to learn that Jesus can perform miracles however He wants to (speaking and touching are two examples here). Third, Jesus was not about to allow a misguided, self-righteous religion stop Him from meeting people at the point of their need.
Jesus came to this earth to seek and to save. But He is also the Great Physician come to put the broken back together, to give sight to the blind, to give hearing to the deaf, to give liberty to the oppressed, to breathe life back into the dead.
Praise God that Jesus was unwilling to let unnecessary religious ritual stop Him from doing what needed to be done. May we always hold the needs of people above any restrictions of man-made religion.