Through these miraculous healing, Jesus physically demonstrates that he came to rescue us from our ultimate suffering which is rooted in our sin and our guilt.
Matthew 8-9 give a series of miracles Jesus performed that all point to his authority from God. The miracles call on us to respond. We see faith before the miracle in the person seeking Jesus. We are called to respond in faith after the miraclen because the evidence is mounting that Jesus is the Messiah
14And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. 15He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him. – Matthew 8:14-15
- Jesus was leaving the synagogue when they approached him about Peter’s mother-in-law. She had a high fever which he rebuked. Then she got up and was well enough to serve him (Mark 1:29-31; Luke 4:38-39).
- We aren’t told much about this woman or her faith.
- The fact that she extended hospitality to Jesus shows how fully she recovered.
- Hospitality in that culture was very important. She would have wanted to serve guests in her home both as a duty and an honor.
- The personal connection to Peter reminds us that these miracles are individual acts of compassion, not just supernatural events.
16That 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. 17This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” – Matthew 8:16-17
- The word fulfill (πληρωθη; Strongs G4137) can mean 1) something predicted has come to pass; or 2) “X is the fullest picture of Y,” the fullness, epitome or completeness of an Old Testament theme.
- Quite often Matthew means this second usage. Fuller discussion in chapter 1.
- Matthew quotes Isaiah 53:4 which is a prediction of Jesus, the Messiah.
- In both biblical Hebrew (Isaiah) and biblical Greek (Matthew), the words in these passages can refer to physical problems (e.g. illness, disease) or spiritual/emotional problems (e.g. griefs, sorrows). The translators translate them as physical illness in Matthew, but as spiritual illness in Isaiah.
- The context in Matthew tells us Jesus is healing many who were oppressed by demons, casting out the spirits and healing all who were sick, suggesting this is broader than physical disease.
1Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2For 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.
3He 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.
4Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
5But 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.
6All 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. – Isaiah 53:1-6
- Isaiah was a prophet to the Southern Kingdom (Judah) His ministry spans 50-60 years from approximately 740 – 680 BC during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah (kings of Judah).
- The last section of Isaiah (40-66) is set against the Babylonian captivity and is addressed to a group of people who lived about 120 to 140 years after Isaiah ministered.
- In this section Isaiah predicts a Servant who will suffer for his people. That Servant is the Messiah who is Jesus.
- Isaiah 53 tells us that the Servant is an unimpressive man who is acquainted with sorrows and griefs. But in fact it is our sorrow and our grief that he has taken upon himself. He is going to offer his life as a guilt offering so that we can be forgiven, healed, and find well-being and peace.
- Matthew witness both the cross and the resurrection. He heard Jesus explain their significance (e.g. Matthew 26:27-28). Matthew knows what Jesus came to do and that Isaiah predicted it. Matthew could have quoted this passage as direct predictive prophecy when he describes the crucifixion.
- Instead he chooses to quote Isaiah in this context, using the term “fulfilled” in the thematic, analogous reality sense.
- By quoting Isaiah Matthew highlights the symbolic message these miracles carry.
- God chose supernatural acts of deliverance to testify to the authority of His Messiah, because deliverance is what Jesus came to do. As the Messiah, his life’s mission is to deliver his people from their ultimate grief, sorrow and sufferings by dying in their place. These miracles symbolically reflect that deliverance.
- Isaiah 53 predicted the Messiah would die as a guilt-offering for his people and so that they could be mercifully rescued from their sorrows and suffering. Through these miraculous healing, Jesus gives a physical demonstration that he came to rescue us from our ultimate sufferings which are rooted in our sin and our guilt.
When Jesus heals several things happen at once:
- An individual exercises faith in Jesus by seeking him for healing before the miracle.
- The miracle testifies that God has given Jesus His authority.
- The miracle confronts watchers and listeners with the need to respond in faith.
- The miracle is a specific act of mercy and compassion for an individual.
- The miracle symbolically reminds us why Jesus, the Messiah, came.