Friday, November 20, 2009

Matthew 8:14–17

Matthew 8:14–17 (ESV) : Jesus Heals Many

Synopsis

This is kind of a short passage; Jesus goes to Peter’s house, and finds Peter’s mother-in-law lying sick, with a fever. He touches her hand, and the fever leaves her, so she gets up and begins to serve Jesus.

That evening, they—whoever “they” are; probably various different people, not necessarily disciples (at least that’s how I take it)—bring people who are sick and who are possessed with demons to Jesus, who heals them all. It says that he cast out the spirits “with a word” (verse 16 (ESV) ), meaning that he didn’t even have to touch the demon-possessed people; he simply told the demons to come out, and they obeyed.

Matthew tells us that this is the fulfillment of a prophecy made by Isaiah:

This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.” (verse 17 (ESV) )

The ESV footnote says that this is a reference to Isaiah 53:4:

Surely he has borne our griefs
  and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
  smitten by God, and afflicted.

(Isaiah 53:4 (ESV) )

Thoughts

I don’t actually have much to say about this passage. Except that we don’t see much demon possession in 21st Century North America. Which tends to make us believe that it either doesn’t happen anymore, or that it never happened, and that the Bible is either being fanciful or just plain wrong. But I think we’re being a bit too closed-minded on that point; the Gospels definitely treat these healings of demon possessed people as real, historical events that happened. The ESV Study Bible points out that Matthew makes a distinction, in this passage, between people who are sick and people who are demon possessed, so we can’t even say that “demon possession” is just slang for sickness, or that people were stupid back then and thought that any sickness was demon possession; they distinguished between the two, in this passage.

Maybe demons just feel that they don’t need to possess 21st Century North Americans. We’re more than happy to fall into sin all on our own, without prompting from demons. (Before I get any comments, that’s just me being facetious, I’m not actually suggesting it.)

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