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MATTHEW 8 – 9: “What Kind of Man Is This?”

What Kind of Man Is This?

Sometimes a few words can capture the theme of a large section of Scripture. I believe these words capture the theme of Matthew chapters 8 & 9. This is the question the disciples asked when Jesus, awakened from sleep by his fearful disciples, said to the wind and the sea, “Peace! Be still!.

What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey Him!” – Matthew 8:27

What kind of man, indeed? If you read these two chapters with this question in mind, you will get some important answers.

He is a willing man. The leper wasn’t sure. “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus was willing, and even reached out to touch the untouchable leper. He is willing because he loves us. He is not only strong, so He is able to help us. He loves us, so He is willing to help us. (8:1-4)

He is a man of authority. The centurion asked for Jesus to heal His servant. Jesus was willing. He said, “I will go and heal him.” The centurion, a man who was under authority and with authority, said to Jesus (in effect): “I understand authority. When one with authority speaks, things happen. You have authority. Say the word and my servant will be healed.” Jesus was amazed at this man’s faith. He spoke, and the servant was healed. Only a man with great authority in the universe could do this. (8:5-13).

He is a man involved in our lives. When Jesus healed many in Capernaum, Matthew observed that this fulfilled Isaiah 53:4. “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.” I do not pretend to know exactly how He did this, but in some way to took those diseases onto Himself – even as he bore our sins in His body on the cross. (8:14-17 – See also Mark 1:29-34 for more detail than Matthew gives.)

He is a demanding man. One said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” Another said, “Let me first go bury my father.” Jesus said, “Let the dead bury their dead. You follow me.” Hard? Yes. He demands our full loyalty and devotion – even when it means personal privation or action that seems uncaring to parents. Cultural conventions do not excuse our delaying to serve Him. He is a demanding master. (8:18-22)

He is a peace-giving man. When He commanded the winds and the waves to be still, they obeyed His voice. This was a terrible storm that was so great that professional fishermen, who are the world’s best handlers of small craft, were frightened and thought themselves doomed. Yet, at a word, Jesus stopped the storm in its tracks, bringing peace to the troubled sea and calming their fearful hearts. (8:23-27)

He is a rejected man. Even after a mighty miracle in setting free two demoniacs in Gaderea who were possessed by a legion of demons, the people of that region begged him to leave their shores. The men whom Jesus delivered were so violent no one could go that way. Jesus commanded the demons to leave the men; they begged him to allow them to go into the herd of pigs. Jesus agreed, and the pigs ran down a steep bank into the sea where they drowned. When the people saw the two men peacefully sitting at Jesus’ feet, they begged Jesus to leave them. He was rejected by those whom He had helped by making calm and rational the men who had terrorized that neighborhood. Yet, they turned Him away. How often we reject what we do not understand! (8:28-34)

He is a forgiving man. Back in Capernaum, he was teaching in a house. Four men brought a paralyzed man to Jesus. The house was full, so they let him down through a hole in the roof. When Jesus saw their faith, He said, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Some who were there, “checking Jesus out,” thought within themselves, “This man is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” Jesus asked them, “Which is easier? To say your sins are forgiven, or to say to the paralytic, ‘Take up your bed and walk”? He then told the paralytic to take his bed and walk. The paralytic picked up his bed and walked out. Jesus said that this was to show that He had authority on earth to forgive sins. (9:1-8)

He is a merciful man. Jesus invited a tax-collector to follow Him. Levi followed Jesus, and gave a banquet for Him in his home to which he invited his friends: tax-collectors and sinners. The Pharisees asked, “Why does He eat with tax-collectors and sinners?” They thought such people were not worthy to associate with godly folks. Jesus said, “Healthy people do not need a doctor – only those who are sick. I have come to call sinners, not the righteous.” He also challenged his accusers: “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.'” He was merciful, reaching out to the “undesirables” of society. (9:9-13)

He is a joyful man. While others were fasting, Jesus was feasting. In his presence, His disciples were also joyful. He brought new wine for new wine skins, the wine of the joy of the Holy Spirit for the new creation He was bringing into being. (9:14-17)

He is a healing man. When the woman with the hemorrhage touched the hem of His garment, she was healed. (9:20-22)

He is a life-giving man. Jairus’ daughter died before Jesus came to her, but Jesus went and raised her up. (9:18-19, 23-26)

He gives sight to the blind. When the blind men cried for mercy, he asked if they believed He could give them their sight. As He touched their eyes, He said, “According to your faith will it be restored.” They were healed. (9:27-31)

He is an amazing man. The crowd was amazed when He cast a demon from a man who could not talk. Not all were amazed, though. the Pharisees said He did this by the power of the prince of demons. (9:32-34)

He is a pleading man. For all that He did, preaching the good news, teaching in the synagogues, healing all diseases and sicknesses with compassion for the people because they were as sheep without a shepherd, people did not understand or completely receive Him. He was still pleading for workers for the harvest that He (and apparently only He) could see that was ready. (9:35-38)

Is there something about this man that demands your attention, your admiration, and your adoration?

Questions for Consideration

  1. How would you sum up these two chapters? What theme do you see in them?
  2. Many of the miracles in these chapters involved the touch of Jesus. What significance, if any, do you see in this? What difference has He made in your life by touching you?
  3. How do you visualize Jesus taking our infirmities and carrying our diseases?
  4. Several of the incidents in these chapters involve faith – either great or small. Why is faith essential for us to receive a blessing from God? What did Jesus mean when He said to the blind men, “According to your faith will it be done to you”?
  5. Why did Jesus answer the men who were considering following Him as He did? What does this suggest for us as we seek to follow Him?
  6. What are the ways these chapters show the authority of Jesus? Is the authority to heal the same as the authority to forgive? What makes them different? How are they similar?
  7. What single trait of Jesus shown in these two chapters do you believe is most typical to Him or most important about Him?

NEXT: Go Into the Field (Limited Commission)

PREVIOUS: The Sermon on the Mount


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