Lesson #10 Healings and Miracles

(Matthew 8: 1 - 9: 38)

In Lesson #9 we brought Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” to a close, and we observed several things about it:
1. 2. 3. The “Sermon on the Mount” is a stellar example of Jesus’ expository teaching. It is nested within Matthew’s overall mirrored chiastic structure, and it is the first of five “Great Discourses” at the core of that structure. The “Sermon on the Mount” itself is a carefully-crafted, 4-part teaching, each part linked through structural repetition and the repetition of sound. Each of the four parts takes us into the inner dynamics of the Law, probing both meaning and motive. The “Sermon on the Mount’s” teaching is revolutionary, fulfilling and transforming the Law, establishing a new moral and ethical “Gold Standard” for Christian behavior.

4. 5.

We learned in Matthew 4: 23-25 that Jesus’ public ministry consisted of teaching, preaching and healing. In Lesson #10 we will examine Jesus’ healing and his power over both the natural and the supernatural, elevating him far above the mundane. There have been many great teachers and preachers, and there have even been great healers—like Elijah and Elisha who both raised the dead—but none who controlled nature and confounded the supernatural world as we see Jesus do. In this lesson Jesus rises above mere mortals, and we see the first signs of his divinity as he exerts his supernatural authority.

The Gospel according to Matthew’s overall mirrored chiastic structure
A Narrative: Jesus as Messiah, Son of God (1-4) Minor discourse: John the Baptist identifies the authority of Jesus (3:7-12) B Great Discourse #1: Demands of true discipleship (5-7) C Narrative: The supernatural authority of Jesus (8-9) D Great Discourse #2: Charge and authority of disciples (10) E Narrative: Jews reject Jesus (11-12) F Great Discourse #3: Parables of the Kingdom of Heaven (13) E’ Narrative: Disciples accept Jesus (14-17) D’ Great Discourse #4: Charge and authority of church (18) C’ Narrative: Authority and invitation (19-22) B’ Great Discourse #5: Judgment on false discipleship (23-25) Narrative: Jesus as Messiah, suffering and vindicated (26-28) Minor discourse: Jesus identifies the authority of the church (28:18-20)

A’

1. Curing Diseases
Jesus cleanses a leper. Jesus heals the centurion’s servant Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law —and many others.

2. Exerting Supernatural Power
Jesus calms the storm Jesus casts out demons

3. Transforming Lives
Jesus heals the paralytic Jesus calls Matthew Jesus questioned about fasting

4. Defeating Death
Jesus raises a dead girl and heals a woman with a hemorrhage Jesus restores sight Jesus restores hearing

Healings and Miracles
No person can perform a miracle; only God can.
“You who are Israelites, hear these words. Jesus the Nazorean was a man commended to you by God with mighty deeds, wonders and signs, which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.” (Acts 2: 22)

1. Curing Diseases
Jesus cleanses a leper. Jesus heals the centurion’s servant Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law —and many others.

2. Exerting Supernatural Power
Jesus calms the storm Jesus casts out demons

“Cleansing of the Leper” (Codex Egberti, Fol. 21v), c. 990. Municipal Library of Trier, Germany.
This is the oldest existing manuscript with illuminated scenes from the life of Christ.

Cleansing the Leper
(Matthew 8: 1-4)
The Hebrew word for “leprosy” is șāra‘at, and it refers to a wide range of scaly, fungal infections that occur in people, as well as in fabrics and even on the walls of houses. It is not limited to modern-day Hanson’s Disease. In Scripture, however, șāra‘at is associated with “uncleanness,” since it is highly visible, infectious, thought to be a punishment from God, and associated with sin and death. See: Leviticus 13: 45-46; 14: 1-32.

1. Curing Diseases
Jesus cleanses a leper. Jesus heals the centurion’s servant Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law —and many others.

2. Exerting Supernatural Power
Jesus calms the storm Jesus casts out demons

Paolo Veronese, Christ and the Centurion (oil on canvas), c. 1580. Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio.

Roman Centurion

A Roman Legion consisted of 6,000 men and was divided into ten Regiments, each having a name. The Centurion at Caesarea who summons St. Paul in Acts 10 is a member of the Italian Regiment, probably of the 10th Roman Legion. Each Regiment consisted of 600 men. A Centurion commanded a 100-man unit in a Regiment. Although not exactly analogous, a Centurion was similar in rank to a career mid-level officer, a Captain or Major, in today’s Army or Marine Corps.

1. Curing Diseases
Jesus cleanses a leper. Jesus heals the centurion’s servant Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law —and many others.

2. Exerting Supernatural Power
Jesus calms the storm Jesus casts out demons

“Jesus Healing Peter’s Mother-in-Law” (wall fresco), c. 1495. Church of Agios Mamas, Louvaras, Cypress.

What was Wrong with Peter’s Mother-in-Law?

We are told in both Matthew and Mark that Peter’s mother-in-law was in bed with a “fever” (Matthew 8: 14, 15; Mark 1: 30, 31). The Greek word for “fever” used by both Matthew and Mark is pyreto, from the root pyro, meaning “fire.” Although drawing upon Matthew and Mark as sources, Luke “the physician” (Colossians 4: 14) uses the phrase “great fever” (Greek = pyreto megalo), a medical term typically associated with Dysentery or Malaria.

1. A scribe said: “I will follow you . . .” (8: 19)
Jesus said: “Foxes have dens . . . birds have nests” (8: 20) 2. Another disciple said: “Lord let me go first and bury my father” (8: 21) Jesus said: “. . . Let the dead bury the dead” (8: 22)

And . . . Matthew has just ever so subtly planted the phrase “Son of Man.”

1. Curing Diseases
Jesus cleanses a leper. Jesus heals the centurion’s servant Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law —and many others.

2. Exerting Supernatural Power
Jesus calms the storm Jesus casts out demons

Rembrandt, The Storm on the Sea of Galilee (oil on canvas), 1633.
Location unknown. (STOLEN from the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum, Boston in 1990.)

Sea of Galilee (Google Earth)

1. Curing Diseases
Jesus cleanses a leper. Jesus heals the centurion’s servant Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law —and many others.

2. Exerting Supernatural Power
Jesus calms the storm Jesus casts out demons

“Healing of the Gadarene Demoniacs” (wall fresco), c. 1350. Monastery of Dečani, Kosovo.

Sea of Galilee (Google Earth)

Gadara

Gadara, one of the ten “Decapolis” cities, lay about 5 miles southwest of the Sea of Galilee.
Josephus writes: “. . . he went out with all these and kindled the villages of both Gadara and Hippo, which indeed chanced to lie on the boarders of Tiberias and Sycthopolis.”
(Life, IX, 42)

The territory of Gadara had several outlying villages along the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

3. Transforming Lives
Jesus heals the paralytic Jesus calls Matthew Jesus questioned about fasting

4. Defeating Death
Jesus raises a dead girl and heals a woman with a hemorrhage Jesus restores sight Jesus restores hearing

“Jesus Heals the Paralytic,” (Mosaic), Basilica di Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy.

3. Transforming Lives
Jesus heals the paralytic Jesus calls Matthew Jesus questioned about fasting

4. Defeating Death
Jesus raises a dead girl and heals a woman with a hemorrhage Jesus restores sight Jesus restores hearing

Vittore Carpaccio. The Calling of Matthew (tempera on canvas), 1502. Scuola di San Giorgio degll Schiavoni, Venice.

3. Transforming Lives
Jesus heals the paralytic Jesus calls Matthew Jesus questioned about fasting

4. Defeating Death
Jesus raises a dead girl and heals a woman with a hemorrhage Jesus restores sight Jesus restores hearing

By placing the “call of Matthew” between the “healing of the paralytic” and the “new wine/old wineskins” metaphors Matthew frames his own story of redemption and discipleship.

3. Transforming Lives
Jesus heals the paralytic Jesus calls Matthew Jesus questioned about fasting

4. Defeating Death
Jesus raises a dead girl and heals a woman with a hemorrhage Jesus restores sight Jesus restores hearing

Paolo Veronese. Raising the Daughter of Jairus (oil on paper mounted on canvas), 1546. Louve Museum, Paris.

3. Transforming Lives
Jesus heals the paralytic Jesus calls Matthew Jesus questioned about fasting

4. Defeating Death
Jesus raises a dead girl and heals a woman with a hemorrhage Jesus restores sight Jesus restores hearing

“Jesus Heals Two Blind Men” (Walters MS 592, Ink & pigments on laid paper, text in Arabic), 1684. Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland.

3. Transforming Lives
Jesus heals the paralytic Jesus calls Matthew Jesus questioned about fasting

4. Defeating Death
Jesus raises a dead girl and heals a woman with a hemorrhage Jesus restores sight Jesus restores hearing

“Jesus Heals the Deaf and Dumb Man” (mosaic), c. 1315-1321. Church of Chora, Istanbul, Turkey.

The Gospel according to Matthew’s overall mirrored chiastic structure
A Narrative: Jesus as Messiah, Son of God (1-4) Minor discourse: John the Baptist identifies the authority of Jesus (3:7-12) B Great Discourse #1: Demands of true discipleship (5-7) C Narrative: The supernatural authority of Jesus (8-9) D Great Discourse #2: Charge and authority of disciples (10) E Narrative: Jews reject Jesus (11-12) F Great Discourse #3: Parables of the Kingdom of Heaven (13) E’ Narrative: Disciples accept Jesus (14-17) D’ Great Discourse #4: Charge and authority of church (18) C’ Narrative: Authority and invitation (19-22) B’ Great Discourse #5: Judgment on false discipleship (23-25) Narrative: Jesus as Messiah, suffering and vindicated (26-28) Minor discourse: Jesus identifies the authority of the church (28:18-20)

A’

Matthew 9: 35 is a recapitulation, taking us back to Matthew 4: 23 which introduces Jesus’ teaching, preaching and healing. The narrative technique forms an inclusio, creating cohesion within the text, reinforcing its structural integrity and highlighting its meticulous planning.

Once again, very fine work, Matthew!

1. 2.

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5.

If only God can perform miracles, how are we to understand this series of miracles and healings that we have just seen Jesus perform in Matthew 8-9? As Chapter 8 opens, Jesus heals a man with leprosy, he cures the Centurian’s servant and heals Peter’s mother-in-law. What do these three people have in common? How do they differ from each other? Jesus then calms the storm on the Sea of Galilee and casts out demons from the two men in the territory of the Gaderenes. What do these two episodes tell us about Jesus? The calling of Matthew is framed by the healing of a paralytic and the metaphors of new wine in old skins and new cloth sewn onto an old garment. What does this tell us about Matthew? Matthew deliberately links the end of this section on miracles and healings (9: 35) to the beginning of the “Sermon on the Mount” (4: 23), structurally unifying them. Why does he do this?

Copyright © 2014 by William C. Creasy
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