Matthew 8
People's New Testament
When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.
8:1 The Ministry at Capernaum


A Paralytic Healed. The Charge of Blasphemy. Christ's Power to Forgive Sins. Matthew Called. Eating with Publicans. New Cloth on an Old Garment. The Daughter of Jairus. The Woman with Bloody Issue Healed. The Damsel Restored to Life. Two Blind Men Made to See. Preaching in the Synagogue.

And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
8:2 There came a leper. Compare Mr 1:40-45 Lu 5:12-15. Leprosy was a dreadful and hopeless disease. It begins as a skin disease, defies medical skill, and is a kind of living death. Dr. Schaff says:

Near the Jaffa gate of Jerusalem I saw, in 1877, these miserable creatures with withered limbs imploring aid, and visited a hospital of incurable lepers.''

There are various forms of the disease, but white leprosy seemed most common among the Hebrews. With it the sufferer became white from head to foot. The leper, by the law of Moses, was regarded unclean, was separated from the people, was regarded as death, and the disease was a type of sin. See Le 13:1-12 2Ki 5:27 Nu 5:2.

Lord. An expression of faith, as well as the words that follow.

And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
8:3 Touched him... immediately his leprosy was cleansed. To touch a leper was forbidden, and carried ceremonial defilement, but at the touch of Jesus the source of the defilement fled, and the leper was clean. At the touch of Jesus all impurity flees.
And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
8:4 Tell no man. This was forbidden until the man was officially declared to be healed. He could not enter society until the priests had so declared. To blaze the story abroad as a miracle of Jesus might prevent such a declaration on account of prejudice. Besides, the Lord often forbade noising abroad his cures, for various reasons, chiefly because the multitude so thronged him.

Offer the gift that Moses commanded. See Le 14:10,22,30,31.

For a testimony. An official proof of the miracle.

And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,
8:5 When Jesus was entered into Capernaum. See PNT Mt 4:13. His return to the place he made his home after the Sermon on the Mount and healing the leper. Compare Lu 7:1-10.

There came unto him a centurion. A Roman military officer, corresponding to our captain. All Palestine was under Roman military government at this time, with headquarters at Caesarea, and soldiers in every leading town. This centurion probably commanded the company stationed at Capernaum. He was, of course, a Gentile. We learn from Lu 7:3, he came to Jesus, not in person, but by Jewish elders, whom he supposed would have more influence with the Lord. These elders interceded more readily because he had built them a synagogue (Lu 7:5), either to secure favor, or because he was, like Cornelius, a devout man. In the ruins of Tel Hum, supposed to be Capernaum, are yet found the foundations of a synagogue, one known by certain characteristics to have been built in the Herodian period, and there can hardly be a doubt that it was the one built by the centurion, and in which Christ often preached. See Edersheim's Jewish Social Life, page 255.

And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.
8:6 Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy. Luke says his servant was dear unto him, and the whole account of Matthew indicates intense solicitude. Paralysis, or palsy, was a common disease in those days. See Mt 4:24. Alford says,

The disease of the text may have been tetanus, or lockjaw, which the ancient physicians included under paralysis.''

Luke says that he was ready to die (Lu 7:2).

And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.
8:7 Jesus saith unto him. Luke tells us that he started at once, but was interrupted by what follows.
The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.
8:8 The centurion answered. Through friends whom he had sent for this purpose (Lu 7:6).

I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof. This humility was partly due to his consciousness that he was a Gentile. Rigid Jews did not hold social intercourse with Gentiles, and the centurion may have supposed that so holy a Jewish teacher as Jesus would hesitate to come under his roof.

Speak the word only. Speak only a word is the idea, and my servant will be healed. Not even Martha (Joh 11:21) thought that Jesus could have saved her brother Lazarus without going to him. His faith was great.

For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.
8:9 For I am a man under authority, etc. The meaning is: If I, in my subordinate station, am obeyed, how much more thou, who art over all, and whom disease serve as their master. As he could say, Go, to a soldier and was at once obeyed, so Jesus could say, Go, to the disease, and it would obey him.
When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.
8:10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled. There are two cases in the Lord's history where he is said to have marvelled; here and in Mr 6:6. In one case he marvels at the faith of a Gentile; in the other at the unbelief of the Jews.

I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. The greatness of his faith is shown in his lofty conception of the power and dignity of Christ. This great faith was found, not in Israel, but in a Gentile. In one case beside, that of the Syrophoenician woman (Mt 15:28), also a Gentile, the Lord commends the greatness of faith.

And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.
8:11 Many shall come from the east and west. The terms the east and the west, the extreme points of the compass, are taken to indicate the regions that are far away, the whole world. The Lord means not only those who are geographically far away from Israel, but those who have been far away spiritually, Gentiles as well as Jews.

Shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob. The Jews were accustomed to speak to the delights of the Messiah's kingdom as a feast with the patriarchs. The language implies intimate domestic intercourse and fellowship.

The kingdom of heaven refers, here, rather to the eternal blessed state than to the church on earth.

But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
8:12 But the children of the kingdom. The Jews, the natural children of Abraham, the Father of the faithful, heirs of the promises made to him.

Cast out. Because they rejected the Messiah, in whom all the promises center.

Into outer darkness. The history of the Jews for 1,800 years has been a fulfillment of this passage.

There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. There is a hint at the wretchedness of a future state of punishment.

And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.
8:13 As thou hast believed. The centurion believed that Jesus could heal his servant by speaking the word.

In the very selfsame hour. At the moment these words were spoken the servant was well.

And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever.
8:14 Peter's... wife's mother. Compare Mr 1:29-34 Lu 4:38-41. Peter, whom the Catholics make the first of the popes, was, therefore, a married man. See also 1Co 9:5. Malarious fevers are still common in the vicinity of Capernaum, due probably to the adjacent marshes.
And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.
8:15 Touched her hand. He could heal by a word, or by his touch. At his touch the fever left her.

Ministered. Was well, and able to prepare a meal for the Lord.

When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:
8:16 They bought unto him many. See also Mr 1:32.

Possessed with devils. See PNT Mt 4:24.

Healed all that were sick. The sick were diseased in body; the demoniacs were spiritually diseased.

That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.
8:17 Spoken by Isaiah. In the beautiful picture of the Messiah in Isa 53:1-12.
Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.
8:18 Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him. The multitudes had gathered to listen to his teaching, or to behold his miracles. The sea was only six miles wide, and the Savior often crossed it in order to secure retirement. There is no deep recess in the eastern hills; no towns along its banks corresponding to those in the plain of Gennesareth.
And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
8:19 A certain scribe came, and said... I will follow thee. Compare Lu 9:57-62. Though this scribe belonged to a class which, as a body, rejected Christ, he was disposed to be a disciple (see Mt 8:21), but had not counted the cost. See PNT Mt 2:4.
And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
8:20 Jesus saith to him. He rejects not this man's offer, nor refuses him the liberty to follow him, only he will have him know what he is doing and count the cost.

The Son of man. It is the name by which the Lord ordinarily designates himself as the Messiah-- the Son of God manifested in the flesh of Adam; the second Adam.

Not where to lay his head. He, as the Son of man, did not possess what the humbler animals claim, a home.

And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
8:21 Permit me first to go and bury my father. There are two views. (1) That his father was already dead, and he wished only to attend the funeral and properly observe the last rites. If this view is correct, the Savior meant to teach that the duty to the Lord is higher than any earthly duty, and when one has to yield to the other it must be the lower one. (2) The view is also held that the disciple asked that he might be permitted to remain at home until his father's death and burial, and then follow Christ. That is the more probable view. It was the case of loving father or mother more than me (Mt 10:37).
But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.
8:22 Follow me. The highest of all duties, now discharged by becoming his disciple, obeying him and making his life our example.

Let the dead bury their dead. Those spiritually dead will attend to the last rites of them who have died naturally.

And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.
8:23 When he had entered into a ship. Compare Mr 5:1-21 Lu 8:28-40. Boat is a better rendering. It was a small open row boat.
And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.
8:24 There arose a great tempest in the sea. Mark says, A great storm (Mr 4:37); Luke, There came down a storm of wind (Lu 8:23); the word used by Matthew implies a tornado. The Greek word seismos denotes a sudden and violent gust of wind, such as frequently bursts on the lake. All travelers describe the storms as very sudden and violent caused by the cold air that rushes down from the mountains into the heated depression of the lake.
And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.
8:25 Lord, save us: we perish. The Lord was awakened out of sleep with these words. Their language is that of extreme terror.
And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
8:26 O ye of little faith. According to Matthew, he characterizes them as of little faith; according to Mark he asked, How is it that ye have no faith ? (Mr 4:40); according to Luke, Where is your faith ? (Lu 8:25). The spirit of the rebuke is the same in all the accounts.

Rebuked the winds and the sea. Mark gives the very words of the rebuke: Peace, be still (Mr 4:39).

But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!
8:27 What manner of man? The words express astonishment at this new proof of his control, not only over demons and disease, but also over the winds and waves, which obeyed him at his word.
And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.
8:28 Into the country of the Gergesenes. Compare Mr 5:1-21 Lu 8:26-40. Gergesa has been identified on the east shore of Galilee; the steep place and tombs are still seen. It was a village in the district of the Gadarenes. The Lord landed here after the storm. The Revised Version has Gadarenes in Matthew, and Gerasenes in Mark and Luke (Mr 5:1 Lu 8:26). The simple explanation of this difference is that Gadarenes and Gerasenes are different names for the inhabitants of the same large district, so called from Gadara and Gerasa, two cities of that region; while Gergesenes in the name of the people of a smaller district within the other, and named from the city of Gergesa.

Two possessed with devils. Mark and Luke mention only one, the fiercer one, who spoke with the Lord (Mr 5:2 Lu 8:27).

The tombs. The tombs were caves, natural or artificial, cut in the rock of the hill side, and, hence, suitable for a shelter.

Fierce. So violent as to be dangerous (Mr 5:3-5 Lu 8:29).

And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?
8:29 They cried out. This account shows: (1) That demoniacal possession was not simply bodily or mental disease. (2) That evil spirits actually took possession of and controlled human beings. (3) That these controlled the actions and organs of speech of their poor victims. (4) We learn elsewhere that sin prepared the way for the entrance of the demon.

Thou Son of God. The demons, like the devil, recognized him.

Torment us before the time. These words show that they expected the final triumph of Christ.

And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.
8:30 An herd of many swine. According to Mark, 2,000 (Mr 5:13). They were an unclean animal, kept probably by Jews in violation of the spirit of the Mosaic law; or, if by Gentiles, kept in violation of God's law for the land of Israel.
So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.
8:31 Suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. Why this request we do not know; perhaps it was malicious; perhaps to have an animal habitation.
And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.
8:32 Go. Permission, not a command.

Ran violently... into the sea. Maddened, the swine rushed down the steep declivity into the sea. If we knew all the facts we would see more fully the righteousness of the Lord's permission. Perhaps the loss of the swine was a punishment. Perhaps it was to show that evil works its own destruction.

And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.
And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.
8:34 The whole city came out to meet Jesus. Filled with wonder and fear by the story.

Besought him that he would depart. Partly from awe of one with such power; partly, perhaps, from fear of loss of more property. The Lord, bidden to depart, never returned. In this fact is a significant lesson. Mark tells us that the healed demoniac became a preacher of Christ in his own country (Mr 5:18-20).

The People's New Testament by B.W. Johnson [1891]

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