In the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew quoted Jesus as claiming to have authority from God. Now Matthew turns our attention to how Jesus acts with God’s authority, by performing miracles only God can perform. These miracles confront us with a choice to believe Jesus is who he says he is.
Matthew’s Gospel Simple Outline
- Chapters 1-4 – Prologue
- Chapters 5:1-16:12 – Jesus’ ministry in Galilee, including 3 discourses.
- Chapters 16:13-17 – Turning Point; Jesus prepares to go to Jerusalem
- Chapters 18-28 – Journey to Jerusalem, culminating in the passion week, including 2 discourses.
In chapter 4, Matthew describes how Jesus began his ministry in Galilee. Jesus preached to large crowds, healing many people and teaching: “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.”
In chapters 5-7, Matthew gives us an example sermon Jesus’ early ministry. Now Matthew turns our attention to a series of miracles.
- The authority of Jesus is a key theme in the next section of the gospel.
- If several police officers knock on my door with a search warrant, I have no choice but to accept their authority.
- When Jesus returns, he will exercise that kind of authority. He will descend from heaven with the glory of God and all of us will have no choice but to submit.
- At his first coming, Jesus exercised a different kind of authority. He gave people a choice whether to accept and reject him.
- Like his teaching, the miracles confront us with the question: Is Jesus exercising God-given authority or not?
- Before the miracle, we see someone who has confronted that question, decided to trust Jesus and come to him seeking help.
- After the miracle, we see others confronted with the question of whether or not to believe Jesus is acting for God.
28And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes – Matthew 7:28-29
- Many argue that Jesus teaches with authority because he quotes no other rabbis or sources.
- Jesus based his teaching on a clear and profound understanding of the Old Testament and good interpretative methodology.
- But Jesus claimed a more profound kind of authority for himself.
- Jesus compared himself to the prophets who had a message from God (Matthew 5:10-12).
- Jesus describes himself as on a mission from God to fulfill the Law (Matthew 5:17).
- “For I tell you” carries the weight of one sent from God, similar to “Thus says the Lord. (Matthew 5:20).
- Jesus claims God has given him the authority to decide our fate on judgment day (Matthew 7:21-23).
- Jesus claims rejecting his words will have devastating consequences (Matthew 7:24-27).
- No scribe or Pharisee made these kind of claims.
- Jesus makes a clear claim to having the authority of God.
- In these miracles we see him do things only God can do.
1When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. 2And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 3And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. 4And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” – Matthew 8:1-8:4
- It’s unclear exactly what disease this man had. What is called leprosy in the Bible is probably a collection of various kinds of infectious skin diseases.
- The leper has wrestled with the question of the authority of Jesus and come to Jesus in faith. He acknowledges Jesus has the power to heal him, but is not required to do so.
- Jesus touches the leper even though the leper is physically and ritually unclean.
- When you share your water glass with someone sick, he does not become well; you become sick. That’s how the world works. Yet the leper is healed.
- In some cases, Jesus requests those he’s healed not to tell anyone in order to prevent gathering a mob. Here he requests the Leper to fulfill the law (Leviticus 14:1-11).
5When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 6“Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” 7And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment. – Matthew 8:5-8:13
- During this part of his ministry, Capernaum functioned as a kind of home-base for Jesus (Mark 2:1; Luke 4:16).
- Like the leper we see the prior faith of the Centurion.
- The centurion knows that a Jew would never enter the home of gentile. He acknowledges he is unworthy of Jesus’ attention, but recognizes the authority God has given Jesus
- Jesus marvels as such faith in a Gentile. He paints a metaphorical picture of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob feasting on the day when the kingdom of God is fully established. Many “sons of the kingdom” (Jews, those to whom the kingdom promises were given) will be turned away while many from east and west (Gentiles) will feast at the table.
- The difference between those two groups is responding to Jesus in faith, like the centurion and the leper.
- The faith they approach Jesus with is confidence that Jesus is the Messiah and is acting with the authority of God.