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Matthew 8:14-17

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Introduction

Jesus Heals Many

14 And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. 16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

We continue today looking at the many miracles performed at the hands of Jesus. And as I’ve pointed out before it’s important that we keep in mind that Matthew has hand-picked certain miracles to show or to teach us certain things, so when we read these texts remember that the author intends for you to see and understand something. Matthew isn’t just writing everything down that he’s able to recall from his time with Jesus as a sort of a log book, but rather he’s giving us a presentation of the life and ministry of Jesus with the intention that we learn something.
So when we looked at the beginning of chapter 8 we saw that Jesus has the power to make us clean, which was Matthew’s primary point in his account of Jesus healing a man with leprosy. We also saw that Matthew intended to demonstrate Jesus’ willingness to make well even those who are culturally treated with disdain, who are society’s outcasts.
When we looked at the story of the Gentile centurion, shortly thereafter, we saw that Matthew wanted us to see that Jesus has authority over sickness, and that he’s even willing to heal the ethnic outsider, even if that person is a Gentile. We also saw that Matthew wanted us to see that the substance of salvation is not found in our bloodline or our ethnic lineage, but that faith in the Son of God is essential for entrance into the kingdom of heaven. It’s why he said to his fellow Jewish-men that many Gentiles like this centurion will recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law

So today we move on to yet another account of Jesus’ miraculous works. We read there again in verse 14,

14 And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him.

This text is particularly interesting, historically speaking, for a couple of reasons. The first, is that we learn Peter has a home in Capernaum, we also learn that Peter is presumably married, and that his mother-in-law is living together with them in their home. In Mark’s Gospel we find out that this is the home of both Simon Peter and his brother Andrew. It also appears that this a place where Jesus often stayed while in Capernaum, some have even speculated that Jesus considered this is semi-permanent home while in town.
And what’s also particularly interesting about this story is that modern day archeologists have unearthed what appears to be a Christian church in Capernaum, just south of the town’s local synagogue that was in use during Jesus’ time. Now what’s particularly interesting about this church is that it’s octagon-shaped and believed to have been built sometime between the 5th and 6th century AD. The significance of the octagon-shape is that it tells historians that this particular church was what they call a memorial church, which means that it was built over a geographical area of biblical significance. More specifically, a geographical area that was associated with a place where Jesus was remembered to have been.
Now, at the center of this church they “found remains of a square room that seems to have been used as a house church as early as the late first century AD. Many graffiti in Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew, Latin and Syriac, as well as crosses, were scratched into or drawn on the plastered walls of this room.” There were also “artifacts such as lamps, fishhooks, and Herodian-era coins [showing] that the room was previously used for more mundane purposes.” In other words, they found what appears to the home of a fisherman that was later the meeting place of a Christian house church. “Most scholars agree that the … church preserves the location of Peter’s house in Capernaum … [and was] perhaps the very room in which Jesus stayed when he was in town.” (Crossway, Archeology Study Bible (ESV), p. 1382) Isn’t that incredible!
Unfortunately, I think we can often feel disconnected from the Bible when we read it because the culture of the Jewish people was very different than our own today, the setting is foreign to us, so when we read of places like the Sea of Galilee, or Capernaum, Bethsaida our minds often tend to checkout as we’re reading our Bibles. So I think it’s massively encouraging and helpful for us to do whatever we can to connect with the text, in order that we might think about and understand it more deeply.
Which is why archeological finds like this one can be incredibly exciting and encouraging, they can go a long way in rooting what we’re reading into human history, they can go a long way in helping the text come alive. And it’s important that we realize that what we’re reading is not a collection of fairy-tales, they’re not even just good stories compiled for us to glean certain good moral principles, which is what many in the world believe the Bible is. But in fact, these are historical accounts of what God has done amidst the affairs of man. The Bible is not simply a fictional allegory, it’s God’s revelation to us rooted in real human history.
So when we read these verses we’re reading about a real man named Peter who lived like the rest of us in a town called Capernaum, they suffered from real sicknesses just as we do, and a real flesh and blood Jesus touched the hand of Peter’s mother-in-law who was sick with a fever, and immediately the fever left her. And people just like us built a church around Peter’s house to help preserve the memory of their Lord and his time on earth.

Jesus heals many who were sick

Now the text goes on in verse 16 and says,

16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick.

Jesus’ miraculous works made him the focal point of all those who were sick. In fact, in Mark’s account he says that,
Jesus’ miraculous works made him the focal point of all those who were sick. In fact, in Mark’s account he says that,

the whole city was gathered together at the door.

Word of Jesus’ works preceded him everywhere he went.

He took our illnesses and bore our diseases

Now, just as I mentioned at the beginning, Matthew has a point to all of this, and that point is found in verse 17, so let’s read it again together,

17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

Matthew is telling us that one of the primary reasons Jesus is healing the people of their illnesses is in order to fulfill OT prophecy. This would have been particularly important to Matthew’s intended Jewish audience. Fulfilling OT prophecy was essential to the Messiah’s credentials, and so Matthew continues to go to great lengths to demonstrate Jesus’ credentials, to show how his works were a fulfillment of what the OT scriptures pointed to.
And as we’ve discussed before there are many reasons behind Jesus performing miracles, some of which are primary motivations and some of which are secondary motivations. For instance, one of the reasons behind Jesus’ miraculous healings is that of compassion for the people, and another, as Matthew describes here is to fulfill OT prophecy.
And the OT prophecy that he references is from Isaiah chapter 53, which if there’s any text from the OT that the NT church seized upon to explain the ministry of Jesus, it was this one. So turn with me to , starting in verse 1, I want us to read this together and get a feel for the context of what Matthew quotes from.
Matthew is honing in on

53 Who has believed what he has heard from us?

And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

2  For he grew up before him like a young plant,

and like a root out of dry ground;

he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,

and no beauty that we should desire him.

3  He was despised and rejected by men,

a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;

and as one from whom men hide their faces

he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4  Surely he has borne our griefs

and carried our sorrows;

yet we esteemed him stricken,

smitten by God, and afflicted.

5  But he was pierced for our transgressions;

he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

and with his wounds we are healed.

6  All we like sheep have gone astray;

we have turned—every one—to his own way;

and the LORD has laid on him

the iniquity of us all.

7  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,

yet he opened not his mouth;

like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,

and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,

so he opened not his mouth.

8  By oppression and judgment he was taken away;

and as for his generation, who considered

that he was cut off out of the land of the living,

stricken for the transgression of my people?

9  And they made his grave with the wicked

and with a rich man in his death,

although he had done no violence,

and there was no deceit in his mouth.

10  Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;

he has put him to grief;

when his soul makes an offering for guilt,

he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;

the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

11  Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;

by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,

make many to be accounted righteous,

and he shall bear their iniquities.

12  Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,

and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,

because he poured out his soul to death

and was numbered with the transgressors;

yet he bore the sin of many,

and makes intercession for the transgressors.

This is an incredibly vivid picture of the life, death and ministry of our Lord, therefore it’s easy to see why this text was seized upon by the early church in their identification of Jesus as the foretold Messiah. And it’s on verse 4 that Matthew zeros in on,

4  Surely he has borne our griefs

and carried our sorrows;

or as Matthew translates it here in the NT,

“He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

Much of what we think about when we consider the Gospel is that Jesus bore our sin, that he was pierced for our transgressions, that he was crushed for our iniquities, and we rightly do so. Yet there is more to it, which this particular text that Matthew points us toward explains for us. Not only does Jesus bear our iniquities but he bore our sicknesses and bore our pains, he took our illnesses and carried our diseases.
These griefs, these sorrows, these illnesses, these diseases that we so often bear have been borne by our Lord on the cross, in the same way that he bore our sin. It’s been taken away. Not only did Christ bear our sin but he bore the consequences of our sin. Paul quotes from the OT in Galatians chapter 3, verse 10, and says,
When sin entered the world one of the consequences was that we were put under a curse.

“Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”

We all qualify as people who do not abide by all the things written in the Book of the Law, therefore we’re all accursed, but Paul goes on in verse 13 and says,

13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”

Not only did Jesus purchase your eternal salvation but he purchased your healing. There in we read at the end of verse 5,

and with his wounds we are healed.

Now you might ask, "[Then] why do people still get sick?" The answer is the same reason we still sin. The work of redemption is not yet complete. But when that work of redemption is complete, our "sin will be no more, and therefore all the consequences of sin will vanish with it." (RC Sproul, Matt. Commentary, p.237)
You might ask, "[Then] why do people still get sick?" The answer is the same reason we still sin. The work of redemption is not yet complete. But when that work of redemption is complete, our "sin will be no more, and therefore all the consequences of sin will vanish with it." (RC Sproul, Matt. Commentary, p.237)
Paul writes in , verse 23, when speaking of the creation being in bondage to corruption that,

not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

So what Matthew seeks to do is reveal to us that Jesus’ miracle working, his healing of the sick is a foreshadowing of what’s to come. It’s what we can expect in the consummated kingdom, it’s what we can look forward to in the age to come when our redemption is complete. These miracles performed at the hands of Jesus, these miraculous works of healing are intended to be a picture of what is to come in the fullness of God’s kingdom.
So what Matthew seeks to do is reveal to us that Jesus’ miracle working, his healing of the sick is a foreshadowing of what’s to come. It’s what we can expect in the consummated kingdom, it’s what we can look forward to in the age to come when our redemption is complete. These miracles performed at the hands of Jesus, these miraculous works of healing are intended to be a picture of what is to come in the fullness of God’s kingdom.

The distortion of the prosperity gospel

Now at this point I think it’s important that we consider how texts like these here in Matthew and Isaiah are often abused, so that we might guard ourselves against false teaching. There are teachers who use scriptures like these as proof texts for promoting what’s typically called the prosperity gospel.
This gospel is not the gospel of the NT, but rather it’s another gospel that has as it’s chief aim the immediate health and prosperity of God’s people. It’s a gospel that exalts man and seeks after the gifts of God rather than God himself. It’s a gospel that says the good news is that God sent his Son in order that we might have health and prosperity. Sin is minimized, if not altogether ignored and texts like and are used to teach that God’s goal in the gospel is to give us immediate deliverance from all sickness and disease.
Joel Osteen, a name many of you are likely acquainted with, wrote this in his book, Becoming a Better You,
“Maybe Alzheimer's disease runs in your family genes, but don't succumb to it. Instead, say every day, "My mind is alert. I have clarity of thought. I have a good memory. Every cell in my body is increasing getting healthier." If you'll rise up in your authority, you can be the one to put a stop to the negative things in your family line ... Start boldly declaring, "God is restoring health unto me. I am getting better every day in every way." (p. 45, 114)
This is certainly not what or is intended to teach us. Jesus certainly, and indeed, took our illnesses and bore our diseases, but nowhere in Scripture are we promised that we will be delivered from this body of death before the second coming of our Lord. And in no way do either of these texts, or any others in the whole of the Bible, tell us that we are to follow Christ for the purpose of experiencing health and prosperity. In fact, it’s quite the contrary, the Scriptures are clear that a disciple of Christ ought to expect suffering in the life.
records that Paul and Barnabas travelled to the towns of Lystra, Iconium and Antioch,

strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

Therefore, let us be on guard against such false teaching.

Conclusion

It isn’t that we aren’t to enjoy the gifts of God, and it isn’t that we aren’t to look forward to the final redemption of our bodies, we’re most certainly intended enjoy his gifts, and we certainly should look forward to the redemption of our bodies, it’s simply that these things should not take the place of God, which would otherwise be idolatrous.
So let us rightly look forward to the redemption of our bodies, let us take great joy that our Savior has taken upon himself our sickness and borne our pain, and that one day we will no longer be in bondage to this body of decay, and that we will no longer wrestle against the sinful passions of our flesh. A day is coming as the Apostle John describes in Revelation 21,

21 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Prayer

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