He Took Our Infirmities
We begin now to see the accounts of Jesus’s healing ministry. He is showing Himself as the Prophet, Priest, and King, though the message of Matthew rest upon His being King of kings.
We see in Jesus that He is unafraid of touching the sick, even lepers, for in this passage He does exactly that. He touches the leper. Jesus touches the “Unclean leper”, because He sees a man who is healed. We have a Roman Centurion coming to Jesus seeking for healing of his servant who is sick of “Palsy”, and “grievously tormented” and the Centurion is a Gentile. The third individual who is healed is a woman, Peter’s mother-in-law. We see Jesus touching and healing three of the “outcasts” of society of that day.
In these miraculous healings we see Jesus taking the infirmities upon Himself. He was touching the untouchable according to ceremonial laws. Even before the cross He is taking our sin upon Himself. Of the evening following the healing of the three individuals there are many brought to Him for the casting out of demons (these are all first mention for Matthew’s Gospel) with only “His Word”, and healed all that were sick.
Jesus operates His ministry without any racial prejudice, without any fear of contracting disease, and shows no favoritism toward the gender of any individual.
“When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him. And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped Him, saying, Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean. And Jesus put forth His hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.” 8:1-4 (KJV).
According to Old Testament Law when an individual was afflicted by lepersy they were pronounced “Unclean”. They even had to wear a protective cover over their mouth when in public and cry out “Unclean, unclean” (Leviticus 13:44-46). Lepers were “outcasts” the Jewish society. It played no cultural or societal favorites, nor according to gender or race. They were forbidden to mingle with the healthy people. There is one disease, which socially is similar to leprosy in today’s society; and that is AIDS.
According to Warren Wiersbe “Leprosy is an illustration of sin”. It is deeper than the skin (Lev. 13:3), it spreads (Lev. 13:8), it defiles and isolates (Lev. 13:45-46), it is worthy only of fire (Lev. 13:52, 57). AIDS has similar likenesses as a disease. It seems that there is no direct known cause for leprosy, while AIDS has come upon us as an affliction, mainly upon the sexually immoral. It still passes on – spreads – through blood into “Innocent” victims. None are left untouched by sin.
This leprous man came to Jesus. This of itself broke the law of the leper. We are told that the leper “Worshipped Him”, and in worshipping Him he is recognizing His deity, and His sovereignty. This man has been greatly humbled, and is submissive to the sovereignty and power of Jesus, as he says, “If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean”. He is willing to accept the will of Jesus, and he is not demanding, but humbly asking. Jesus heals this leper, and gives him commandment to go and obey the law of Moses concerning the matter of the law of the lepers. This was in order to fulfill the law. Lepers were rarely if ever healed. There is really only one Biblical account of any Jewish individual being healed in the Old Testament, and that was Mirriam (Numbers 12:10. Read chapter 12 Numbers to see why she became leprous). In my thinking it would almost seem that by Jesus sending the healed leper to the religious leaders He is making a statement, and they will be approving the healing, in that they recognize the healing. This would give them no excuse not to believe Jesus is genuinely their Messiah. By keeping the law and sending a healed leper for ‘cleansing’ He stifles their hypocrisy, and shows it as death.
“And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.” 8:5-13 (KJV)
A Roman soldier shows a great faith, and in behalf of a servant of his household, who is suffering from a palsy with great pain and suffering. The Gentiles were hated and despised by Jewish culture; as were slaves. Here we have a Gentile praying for his slave. The Centurion is commended by Jesus, for his faith. Jesus warns of willful ignorance and eternal judgment upon those who have seen, written, interpreted, and yet have no faith. He, as Messiah, was in the midst of His people doing His mighty works, yet they did not believe (John 10:37-38). He warns them, that just because they are physical descendants of Abraham, does not make them his spiritual descendants.
The very hour Jesus spoke healing the slave/servant was healed. In this instance it was according to this man’s faith. This is usually not the standard, but it can apply.
The “children of the kingdom” mentioned here are the children of Israel who have refused to believe the message and that He is the Messiah. The only place for all who will not believe Jesus is to “be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth”. “That many shall come” are evidently the Gentile masses who would come and believe Jesus and His Word that He speaks. “East and West” is from around the globe.
We know that due to this man’s faith his servant was healed that same hour. The man understands the principle of authority, and trust the authority which he sees in Jesus. His recognition is one that shows the deity of Jesus; because who but deity has authority over sickness and disease? There is none but God.
“And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.” 8:14-15 (KJV).
The final individual who is mentioned is a woman in bed with a sickness, and this woman is Peter’s Mother-in-law. A common prayer for Jewish males in Jesus’s day was, “I thank Thee that I was not born a slave, a Gentile, or a woman”. Of course, no one would desire to get leprosy. Women held no honored position in Jewish society.
Peter’s Mother-in-law is very sick, and she must have been really ill, because she is in bed. People of that era did not stop working just because they felt a little ill, with an upset stomach or something like that: they kept to their work. She seems to have been sick, even possibly to the point of death.
Jesus touched her hand in a special way, a special touch, a healing touch. She was a Jewish woman. Jesus may have been stating by this touch, “I have not forsaken my people. They are sick, but in Me there is healing”. By healing the Gentile’s slave, and the leper He showed an open door to sinners and Gentiles of every land. Israel in her illness will be touched again by her Messiah. The woman, being healed, arose and served Jesus and the disciples. It was an immediate healing.
“When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” 8:16-17 (KJV).
By all these healings it seems that Jesus is making a point to say to one and to all, “I am the King of all people”. We find it stated in these verses a quotation of Isaiah the prophet from Isaiah 53:4, “Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted”.
Here we find Matthew’s first mention of Jesus delivering people from demon possession. It is called “Possessed with devils”, and He did it by His Word. He did not use a method of any ritual. He did not even use any prayer. He simply spoke the Word. When we are confronted by demons and demonic activity it has been given to us to speak His Word to the people. Where His Word is heard, accepted, and believed demons must flee.
Jesus may have been heckled by the demons as He was suffering on the cross, but it was not for long. He crushed the head of the devil at that same cross, and the evidence of it is the resurrection. The stone is rolled away, the tomb is empty, and Jesus is alive forever more.