As a little girl, I was the middle of three girls and I loved to put things together, take things apart, and make things. My dad tells a story all of the time about when he bought a wheel barrow and he couldn’t get the rubber handles to slide on. He went inside to get some Vaseline, and when he came back out, I told him that I had put them on for him….completely upside down. And trust me, there was no getting these suckers off! My dad had to squat down and grab those handles from up over his shoulders and walk squatted down, just to move that wheel barrow from one place to another. And yet, he never complained. He just taught me how to do them right the next time.
I have learned so much from people who took time to teach me. There was a progression that took place. They taught me. Then, they showed me. Then, I did it, while they coached me. Finally, I did it on my own, and was able to teach another. “I do it; I do it, and you watch; You do it and I watch; You do it.” This progression is what being a disciple and making a disciple is all about.
Living In The Kingdom Is Being A Disciple, and Making Disciples
Matthew 8 begins the “showing” part. Jesus taught the principles of the New Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven, up until Matthew 7. Now, He was going to show His disciples what it looked like, lived out before them.
No sooner did Jesus come off of the mountain, but large crowds start following Him and a man with leprosy came and asked for healing. Leprosy was a skin disease that many believed was highly contagious, so much so that the one with leprosy was to live outside the city and when he came into the city, he was to yell “UNCLEAN!” so people could stay away from him. Can you imagine the loneliness? The isolation? What if Jesus, who always used the physical to explain the spiritual, made this His first miracle after the Sermon on the Mount, to show us that it is the UNCLEAN HEART that needs to be made clean? Jesus was constantly changing their minds to understand that Kingdom living was about a change of heart that resulted in the externals, not the other way around. So, how appropriate that this would be the first miracle.
The leper’s confident faith in Jesus to heal him, “You can make me clean“, is another emphasis on our heart condition. Jesus had already taught in Matthew 7:7-11 that what you ask WILL be done because He longs to give good gifts! I wonder if that’s why the Scripture says that Jesus healed Him, “immediately“. I don’t know about you, but I sure need some “immediately’s” in my life! And I just wonder how often I am the obstacle form my own “immediately’s” because my faith is so lacking. Jesus did say “according to your faith, it will be done” (coming up in Matthew 9:29).
It must be noted that this leper must have been a Jew, because Jesus instructed him to tell no one but to simply go and present himself to the priests and do what was required. This was a way for the priests to see the miracle with their own eyes. There was no denying this miracle and they had to face this proof that Jesus was who He claimed to be.
Matthew recorded the next miracle as a Centurion (a Roman captain over 100 men) asking for his servant to be healed. I find it interesting that this book was written to the Jews and yet Matthew included a story about a Roman. The Jews hated being under Roman authority! Could it be that Jesus, a Jew, was showing the principle He had taught them of “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you” (Matthew 5:44)?
Again, such a confident faith comes from this Roman soldier as he says that he is undeserving to have Jesus in his home, but He could just to say the word, and he was confident his servant would be healed. Wow. Christian friends, do we live with that kind of confidence in our God anymore? Jesus healed that servant “just as you believed it would“. There is no denying a direct correlation between our belief and God’s blessing.
I wanted to take a minute to explain verses 11-12, just in case it gave you some pause. I had to double take and study it a bit myself. When Jesus said “many will come from the east and west“, He was referring to Gentiles. When He said, “But the subjects of the kingdom” will not, He was referring to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’s children, the Jews who would reject Jesus as their Messiah.
Jesus healed a Jew and then a Gentile. Jesus came for all; and He was bringing spiritual healing with His physical healing.
Kingdom Living Is Offered To Everyone
The remaining verses (14-17) are about Peter’s mother-in-law being healed. While I believe that there are demonic spirits listed in the Bible and we have been given the authority to drive those out, what struck me today is the fact that once Peter’s mother-in-law was healed, the Bible says that she “got up and began to wait on Him“. How many times has God worked a miracle in my life, only for me to not even take the time to thank Him, and certainly not to serve Him from a heart of thanksgiving!!! This brings Romans 12:1 to my mind: that I am to give myself as a living sacrifice which is the least I can do for what He has done for me. It’s a way to say “thanks”.
Kingdom Living Has A Faithful and Grateful Heart
Jesus was taking His disciples deeper, as they went from Jesus teaching them, to Jesus showing them. He was looking for faithful and grateful hearts. Today I had to ask myself the hard question of just how faithful and grateful I am. Create in our hearts, O God, faithful and grateful hearts!!! In Jesus’ name!