1.  When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.

The Lord was seldom without a host of followers.  He was never anything but popular, and, as we see here, multitudes often followed Him.  We can understand why when we consider the miracles He did.  Certainly someone who could heal the sick as He did would be just as popular in our day!

2.  And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”

Notice that this leper offers Him worship.  Often men who seemed to sense the truth would do this.  Yet notice that the Lord never refused worship offered to Him.  He knew the law, that “You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.”  (Deuteronomy 6:13)  Yet He accepted worship!  Proof to us again of the fact that He was God!

3.  Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.”  And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

Jesus here breaks a taboo and touches a leper.  He was not concerned with uncleanness, for nothing could stain the One Who was cleanness itself.  No doubt this was the first touch of a human hand that this leper had felt since he had been diagnosed with leprosy!  Most certainly it was the first touch of one who was not a leper that he had felt since then.  And it was the touch that healed him.  How great must have been his joy!

4.  And Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

Jesus charges him to tell no one of what He had done.  Jesus was not proclaiming Himself as the Messiah.  He was only proclaiming that the kingdom of heaven was at hand, as John had done.  Since this was His purpose, it would have been inappropriate to draw attention to Himself for healing this man.  But think of what a sensation this man would have made, coming to the priest in this way!  Surely the ritual for the cleansed leper was one that these priests had not performed in a lifetime, and not a dozen lifetimes of the priests before them.  They perhaps would have had to look in the law and figure out what exactly the procedure was.  And here was this leper, giving no explanation as to why, yet cleansed!  Surely the priests could not have concluded anything but that God was indeed at work in a mighty way at that time.

5.  Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him,
6.  saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.”

A centurion was one who commanded a hundred Roman soldiers.  This man would have been basically the soldier in charge of the military presence in Capernaum.  As such, he would have been hated and despised by many of the Israelites as a matter of principle.  The Roman occupiers were looked upon with scorn.  Yet this man came to the Lord Jesus!  And notice the kind of man he was…a man who cared deeply for his servant.  Perhaps this is part of what curried the Lord’s favorable response.

7.  And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”

The Lord’s positive response to this man tells us something about him.  The Lord recognized him as a man of faith, and His diagnosis was correct, as we will see in the next verse.

8.  The centurion answered and said, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof.  But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.
9.  “For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me.  And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

The centurion knew that if Christ came under his roof, His enemies could accuse Him of defiling Himself with a Gentile, and worse, with one of the Roman occupiers of the land.  The centurion did not want Christ to make this sacrifice (although Christ was by no means afraid of making it) and risk the label of a traitor.  Thus he asked Christ to merely speak the word where He was and heal his servant.

This centurion demonstrates a faith that many do not have, even in our day.  That is, he believed that Christ could work miracles at a distance.  To him, it was as easy for Christ to proclaim the word of God and heal his servant from where He was than it would have been in his house.

10.  When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!

The Lord Jesus marvels at this man’s faith.  I often wonder if those who insist that Christ has to be personally present before He can stop evil in the world really have the faith that Christ can do His miracles just as well at a distance as He can when He is present?  Christ certainly would not have to come back to earth in order to put a stop to the evil upon it.  All He would have to do would be to say, “Let there be light,” and that would be the end of it.  Whether or not He will accomplish the bringing in of the kingdom by being present on earth is merely a question of His choice and not a question of His power.

11.  “And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.

To sit down does not literally mean to take a seat, but rather to have a place and a position in the kingdom.  This does not necessarily have to do with salvation or a lack of salvation.  Those who are cast out may still live in the kingdom yet fail to hold any sort of position in it, a fact which they clearly regret.

12.  “But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness.  There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The Lord states that many Gentiles will come and sit down with the fathers of Israel in the kingdom while many of the sons of Israel will be cast out of it.  What a great time of sadness and regret this will be for them!  This is the meaning of “weeping and gnashing of teeth”… great sadness and great regret.  The Lord knew that being an Israelite did not necessitate being a person of faith.  In the same way, many in our day who claim to be “Christians” show themselves to be severely lacking in faith.  The Lord looks for those who will believe Him, not for those of a certain nation or a certain religion.  These are they who will sit down in the kingdom of heaven.

13.  Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; as you have believed, so let it be done for you.”  And his servant was healed that same hour.

The man received that for which he asked, and indeed the Lord worked this miracle at a distance.  The Lord needed no physical contact, yes, He did not even need to be in the room to heal one who was sick.  This is the power of God!

Note that this is not the same miracle as in Luke 7:1-10.  That occasion was the same centurion, but many other details were different.  The love of the Jews for him at that time (Luke 7:3) shows that his gratitude for the Lord’s help here resulted in him doing many charitable things for the people of Israel.  This man was indeed changed by his encounter with the Lord!

14.  Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever.

Many in the “traditional” churches, particularly the Catholics, have tried to say that Peter was unmarried since they want to make him the first Pope.  But first of all forbidding to marry is a doctrine of demons and not of God (I Timothy 4:1-3).  And secondly, how could Peter have a mother-in-law if he wasn’t married?

The Greek word here indicates that this was more than just a fever, but rather was a deadly illness.

15.  And He touched her hand, and the fever left her.  Then she arose and served them.

Notice that her immediate response to being healed is to get up and serve them.  This shows us the type of woman that she was!  If her daughter was anything like her, we imagine that Peter was blessed indeed.

16.  When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed.  And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick,

Again we come upon this mysterious ailment that is called demon-possession.  Notice that demons are said to be spirits.  It seems that somehow these spirit-beings were able to override the human spirit and take control of the body.  We can indeed be grateful that this curse is not a common thing in our day as it seems to have been at that time.

17.  that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
“He Himself took our infirmities
And bore our sicknesses.”

Jesus fulfilled this prophecy in part at this time.  However, in the future kingdom of God this prophecy will be fulfilled in full when all sickness and disease is done away with.

18.  Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side.

These people wanted to be near Christ, but at this point He wished to depart and speak to others.  He was ever mindful of His Father’s timetable and what He would have Him do.  His aim was not to bring Himself glory and fame, but to proclaim the message that He was given.  Thus we see that He often separates Himself from the multitudes.

19.  Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go.”
20.  And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

Perhaps this scribe thought that following this popular teacher might bring him to a place of importance and wealth.  The Lord’s response to him is to point out that He does not even have a place to spend the night.  This scribe was only willing to follow the Lord if he could do so in comfort.  How like many who follow Him today!

21.  Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”
22.  But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

He did not mean that his father was dead, but rather that it was his responsibility to remain with his father until the time of his death so that he could set his family in order afterwards.  He was not asking for a few days vacation from being with the Lord, but rather was bowing out of following Him altogether, until some unspecified future date that would likely never come.

Jesus did not desire anyone to follow Him who was not willing to give his all to Him.  This did not mean that such could not be saved, only that they could not be trusted with the place of a disciple.  Many who believe in Christ are held back from following Him completely by the cares of this life.  This does not mean that they are rejected from salvation, only that they do not receive the exalted place of a true follower of Him.

23.  Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him.

This is the fulfillment of His expressed desire in verse 18 to depart to the other side.

24.  And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves.  But He was asleep.

This is not the same account as that in Mark 4:37-41 or Luke 8:23-25.  That storm occurred after the calling of the twelve, whereas this storm was before.  This storm is called in Greek a “seismos” or earthquake, whereas the storm in the later account is a “lailaps” or a squall.

25.  Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us!  We are perishing!”

Although they were right in looking to Him for salvation, their fear showed their lack of faith in His ability to help.

26.  But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?  Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea.  And there was a great calm.

In the Mark and Luke storm, He rebukes the winds and the sea first, there being more immediate danger, and then the disciples afterwards.  Here the danger was not so great, so He rebuked the disciples first and then the storm.

27.  And the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

Jesus had admonished them for having no faith.  They should have known, with all they knew about what Jesus was to do and Who He was, that no boat could sink with Him in it.  Then they marvel as He demonstrates His power over creation by calming the storm.  Surely no one but God could do this!

28.  When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way

In the Mark and Luke accounts He steps off the boat after the storm and meets one demon-possessed man, whereas here He meets two.  Again this shows that these two accounts are of separate events.  Yet why would demons have met Him after the storm in both cases?  We need to understand that both these storms were not natural occurrences, but rather attacks of the Enemy against our Lord.  First he sought to destroy Him by storm, and then sought to overpower Him by meeting Him with these fearsome, demon-possessed men.  Yet in both cases the attacks failed, as the Lord was easily able to handle both storm and demon.

As this is a different account from that given in Mark and Luke, it should not surprise us that the country named here is that of the Gergesenes, whereas that in Mark and Luke is the country of the Gadarenes.  The Gergesenes were probably descendents of what the Old Testament called the Girgashites, one of the original Canaanite nations.  The Gardarenes were so named from a city named Gadara.  These two are not the same events, and this is not the same location.  Those who speculate that this is an error and that the place should be given as Gadarenes in Matthew like it is in Mark and Luke cannot explain why then Matthew says there were two demon-possessed men whereas in Mark and Luke there was only one.  If we force Scripture to say the same thing when it does not, we only open up more difficulties for ourselves.

29.  And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God?  Have You come here to torment us before the time?”

Jesus had not come to torment these demons.  Nor was this what they feared.  This word “torment” means a severe and revealing testing or interrogation.  It has to do with testing metal with a touchstone.  You touch the metal with the stone.  If it is gold, it will leave a mark.  If it is not gold, it will not leave a mark.  These demons were afraid that Jesus had come to try them before the appointed Day of Judgment!  But they were wrong, of course.

30.  Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding.
31.  So the demons begged Him, saying, “If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine.”

It seems these demons feared being cast out and having no host body.  Although spirit beings exist without a body, perhaps the possession of a body becomes something of an addiction to them.  At any rate, they plead with Him to allow them to at least possess the swine if they are no longer to be allowed to possess the man.

32.  And He said to them, “Go.”  So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine.  And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water.

Jesus allows these demons to go into the swine.  These swine were unclean, and should not have been there according to the law, so Jesus had a perfect right to judge their owners by having them destroyed.  Notice also that Jesus answers the prayer of these demons.  I have heard it said that God never answers the prayer of an unbeliever.  I say that if He can answer the prayer of a demon, He can certainly answer the prayer of an unbeliever!  But the prayer He truly looks for from an unbeliever is the prayer of faith in the One He sent.

33.  Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men.
34.  And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus.  And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region.

Instead of rejoicing in the Messiah coming to them, these men feared for their pocket books if He remained in their territory!  This business of raising swine was profitable for them, and if Christ remained and put a stop to it they would lose the worldly benefits they reaped from it.  Thus they chose the treasures of the world over the eternal treasures that the Lord could provide!  They begged Him to leave, which He did.  How sad that money was more important to them than the living Word of God!  Unfortunately, this is still true of some men today.

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