Our study today in Mathew’s gospel takes us to a very important place in the ministry of Jesus. After preaching His great manifesto of the Kingdom, Jesus descended from the mountain near the shores of Galilee, and as He did He was accompanied by the great multitude that had gathered to hear His sermon. The sermon was fresh in their minds and they were still buzzing about what they had heard. His teaching was in stark contrast to the methodology of the scribes; as chapter 7 verse 29 states, “He taught them as one have authority, and not as the scribes.” At this point, they were still questioning where He got such authority.
His next activities were a demonstration of authority. Over the course of the next two chapters, Matthew describes nine miracles that cover the spectrum of supernatural ability. Jesus had power over the physical man, thus the various healings. He had power over the natural elements of the world, thus the miracle of calming the sea. He had power over the spiritual world, thus the casting out of devils from the maniac of Gadara. These events follow closely upon the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount and they are the establishment of the source of His authority. He is God! He was God in the flesh, and these people had the most unique opportunity in the history of mankind. They could actually walk and talk with God. We would expect reverential fear to grip them as they surely must have realized He had power over life and death. What could make Jesus more unapproachable than this?
And yet we see that Jesus amazed them again. He did not choose at this time to establish His rightful authority as God on earth. After giving the manifesto, wouldn’t this be appropriate? Isn’t this the time to rule the world with a rod of iron? No, it was not the time for the establishment of God’s physical kingdom in the world. Jesus came at this time as an offering for sin. He came this time to be the Lamb of God that would suffer indignity. This time He must endure the humiliation of the cross.
Someone once said that familiarity breeds contempt. The multitudes followed; they were close; they kept bringing the sick to Jesus. Chapter 8 verse 16 says He healed them all. Wherever Jesus went disease was obliterated. Before He left Capernaum, there was scarcely even a sniffle to be found. But the closeness, the easy accessibility of Jesus soon turned into hatred. Interspersed in the narrative of healings is the constant teaching. The teaching was the rub; the teaching pierced them until finally there was contempt. At some point they decided that physical healing was not worth the turmoil He caused in their souls.
The miracles served their purpose; they established His authority. He does control every aspect of the universe. He is sovereign over the physical, the natural, and the spiritual. These events are in the past and were markers of His first advent. The evidentiary hearing is now over. The next time He comes, the Kingdom comes with Him and He will rule with a rod of iron.
Today, the same kind, compassionate Saviour invites you to come and be healed of the worst sickness of all. Sin is a disease of the soul that has led to our spiritual death. The broad spectrum of miracles shows that Jesus has power over this disease as well. He raised people from physical death, but more importantly He raised many from spiritual death. This same miracle is available to you today. You cannot pay for it; you cannot work for it—you only have to ask for it. Salvation is free! This is the real gospel of the Kingdom.
Pastor V. Mark Smith