"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

The GOSPEL of MATTHEW: Ch. 8 – The MESSIAH and HIS KINGDOM MESSAGE:

By James Fire

The LORD Jesus Christ began His teaching ministry in the Gospel of Matthew in Chapter Five by going up into a mountain (MATT. 5:1) and sitting down; His disciples all gathered around to listen, as did the people who were hungry for a word from the LORD. Up until the time of John the Baptist and the LORD Jesus, there had not been a prophet in Israel for about four hundred years!

I find it interesting that the Holy Spirit found it necessary for Matthew to make note of this, that He went up into a mountain; one might wonder, 'Why was it important for us to know that Jesus went up to a mountain to preach? Why is it significant that He did this as opposed to going to a hill or a river or a lake?'

In Scripture, mountains are sometimes symbolic of kingdoms as we see here in the book of Daniel:

DANIEL 2:35
Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.


It would seem then that as the MESSIAH KING of ISRAEL was teaching the disciples and the people of Israel the great spiritual truths of God, that He was laying down what's been known as 'the Kingdom principles' for that time ahead when He would assume the throne of His father, David as foretold in LUKE 1:32. Of course the LORD Jesus Christ has not already taken His rightful place on David's throne; right now He is in heaven seated at the right hand of the Father, on His throne.

Yet when He returns, defeats the Beast and His armies, and is finally recognized by His people as their long awaited Messiah, He will then be hailed by Jew and Gentile alike, as King of Israel!


The promises of God for Israel are still valid; the covenants to Abraham and David are still intact. God's faithfulness to His people is unquestioned as He has always been faithful to preserve them – even if they are merely a remnant – in the face of extreme adversity. The Christian should take solace and find faith in believing all of God's promises to him as well, for the LORD has established impeccable precedence in keeping His Word to Israel, and so shall He do for us the church. We covered this already in another TTUF article:

By the time we get to the beginning of Matthew Ch. 8 we then read about how the LORD Jesus then came down from that mountain “great multitudes following Him.” His teaching about the kingdom and its King were completed for the time being. And as much as these kingdom principles are valid for Israel, to whom the Spirit is promised (EZ. 36:26), they are entirely valid and appropriate for the church as well, which (in this dispensation) is indwelt by the same Spirit of God.
From Ch. 8 and onward we begin to see the King 'in action' and performing such miracles and signs as were anticipated in the Scriptures that described the conduct of the Messiah; such passages as found in Isaiah 35 (note particularly vs. 5 and 6):

ISAIAH 35:5-6

5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.

6 Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.
  (see also Is. 40:9-11; 62:10-12 and other passages describing the Millenial Reign of Christ).

So let us begin Chapter Eight in our continuing study of Matthew's Gospel!


MATTHEW 8:1-3

1 When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.

2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.


In Scripture leprosy is seen as a type of sin and for good reason; like sin, leprosy can begin very small and unnoticed. The body seems fine and healthy; slowly however the disease begins to advance until sores appear, numbness begins to set in fingers and toes, and eventually flesh begins to decay and fall off, leading ultimately to death.
Sin works slowly but surely, bringing about death in all its various forms – the death of our relationships, mental and emotional well being, finances, social life, of our health and eventually the ending of life itself.
The wages of sin is death (ROM. 6:23a) and certainly this leprous man understood that apart from an act of God, he would eventually succumb to the disease and die. Like the leper, we sinners do well to go to Jesus as the ONLY One Who can heal us from our fatal case of sin 'disease'.

Yet even in simply approaching the LORD Jesus, that by the very act, this man is expressing faith. It's worth noting that here is the first instance in this Gospel account where Jesus is referred to as “LORD” or kurios in the Greek. In proclaiming Caesar as Lord or a god, this particular word was used in the days of the Roman Empire.
Notice that the LORD doesn't dispute or disclaim this title from the leprous man who reveals his confidence in the LORD's abilities. He doesn't say, “If you can...” but “If you will...” and his declaration of faith is simple, “LORD if you want to, you can cleanse me of this disease”.

The answer from the LORD is just as direct and simple; thus He reaches out and touches this man (something that the Old Testament Law warns against for the sake of being spared contamination) and brings healing and wholeness to him. The LORD is seen healing many others of leprosy as well and this is something that the Messiah would specifically be known for, healing all the diseases that plague His people, Israel (PS. 103:3). As has been said before in the work of fiction, The LORD of the RINGS, “The hands of the King are the hands of a healer and so the rightful King would ever be known” This is a boast that we can make of our LORD Jesus, 'our ultimate health care provider'. See the FMF article: 

Please notice the word “immediately” in verse 3. When the LORD spoke His word, “Be thou clean” it was done, not gradually or partially, but immediately. When it comes to praying in accord with God's will, we may expect that once the answer comes, it will be immediate in its consequences and results. This is not at all to say that the LORD never chooses to heal those petitioners who seeking wholeness, by degrees – but that when its His will, then it shall be done immediately as One Who possesses the power to do so. Before “immediately” and “be thou clean” He said, “I will”.

1 JOHN 5:14-15

14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.


The LORD then instructed this whole and healthy man to go to the priests and offer up the appropriate offering in thanksgiving to the LORD for this healing (LEV. 14); a nearly unheard of event, which the priests would no doubt raise questions about, concerning this rare occurrence. It should have given the priests a clue that the Messiah might very well be in their midst. The Messiah moves on to encounter others in need . . .

MATTHEW 8:5-10

5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,

6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.

7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.

8 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.

9 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.

10 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.


Now here we have something unusual; the LORD is facing a Roman officer, a Gentile who the Jews despised as unworthy 'dogs' with which YHWH would have nothing to do. However, they failed to recognize the Scriptures that spoke of the Gentile nations in such places as IS. 42:1-7.
You may notice that so many prophetic references to the Messiah are found in the book of Isaiah, and for this reason Isaiah was known as the Messianic Prophet; Zechariah is second only to Isaiah as he also has a great deal to say about the Messiah-King of Israel.

Here is a Centurion, a Roman officer typically in charge of anywhere from 300 to 500 soldiers and subordinate officers. He is a man accustomed to power and a certain amount of moderate wealth. Yet for all of his prowess and ability, he is not calloused but compassionate towards an ailing servant. Another would have simply cast out the sickly servant into the streets and purchased another. Not so, with our present officer.
He is also a humble man, coming all the way that he did, just to see an itinerant Jewish rabbi in hopes of finding a remedy for his servant. He demonstrates his humility by admitting that he was unworthy that the LORD should come under his roof. Note also that this officer likewise refers to Jesus as “LORD” (the second time in this chapter He is recognized as such). This Centurion perceived something about Jesus that was not obvious to the casual observer, as may be duly noted in the rest of this passage:


8 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.

9 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.


The clarity with which this soldierly officer perceives the LORD and His authority is quite frankly stunning, especially since he was one raised in a pagan society that was apt in the worship of the pantheon of the (false) gods. Just as he understood the authority with which he administered his charge, giving orders to soldiers and servants alike, he likewise understood that the One that stood before him had all authority granted to Him, to administer in accordance with His (divine) will.

This clarity made Jesus marvel . . .

10 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.


What is faith but simple spiritual sight, trust and reliance upon God and His Word of truth? An often cited acronym that I am fond of is F.A.I T.H. or Forsaking All I Trust Him. This Roman Centurion understood that this was a man, but more than a man, that could be trusted implicitly and without any reservation. He understood, just as the leprous man prior, that the Word of the LORD could be trusted.

This was sadly not the case with the nation of Israel; apparently they had fallen into such apostasy that when John the Baptist appeared, many had gone to hear his message and repented as a result; no doubt of personal sin, but also of national sin by neglecting their spiritual worship in truth and service to the one true God, YHWH and usurping it with the words of mere religious leaders. Equally sad that too many churches and denominations have become apostate and no longer trust the Holy Bible as the inerrant and infallible Word of God and are likewise exalting the words, philosophies and religious dogma of today's ecumenical and emergent leadership.

John the Baptist lambasted the Pharisees and scribes for their national pride in being children (natural offspring) of Abraham, and having a false sense of security in that fact (MATT. 3:7-9) and in their own self-righteous and dead works rather than by faith. Any that approach the LORD God must do so by faith (HEB. 11:6) and since the atonement for our sins has been paid, salvation is free for any that would receive the LORD Jesus Christ, be they Jew or Gentile (See ACTS 10:34-43; ROM. 3:29; 9:24; 1 COR. 12:13; EPH. 2:14-16).

Thus while the religious leadership was likely aghast at the LORD's statement regarding who will be sitting down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven (Gentiles who believe by faith in the LORD) even as the children of the kingdom will be cast out – that is, the children of Israel who will not come to God through the LORD Jesus Christ by faith.


MATTHEW 8:13

13 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.

Again referring to Hebrews Ch. 10:


HEBREWS 11:6

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Having diligently sought out the LORD, and believing His Word, the Centurion was rewarded for his faith. We can expect that as we uphold a holy expectation of the LORD's answer, we shall likewise receive such blessed reward as is common to those who approach the LORD by faith (IS. 40:31 says “waiting” which means a fixed, expectant focus on receiving an answer).


MATTHEW 8:14-17

14 And when Jesus was come into Peter's house, he saw his wife's mother laid, and sick of a fever.

15 And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.

16 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:

17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.


Peter made the decision, along with his brother Andrew, to follow the LORD (MATT. 4:17-19) and as a result of that, the LORD was welcomed into Peter's house as well as his life; thus having access to Peter's family, He then was in a position to heal his mother-in-law. This is so often the case, that when we receive the LORD into our lives, the lives of our loved ones in our own households are blessed. We become the salt and light of the world (MATT. 5:13-14) when we become saints by the new birth (JOHN 3:3-5; 1 PET. 1:23) and are able to bless those around us with the presence of the LORD that we carry with us!

Its quite pertinent to recognize that the LORD heals sicknesses and diseases but also that He casts out demonic spirits, thus making a distinction between the two. Far too often demonic possession is relegated to mere 'mental illness' and wrapped in medical terminology (“psychosis”) so as to give the impression that its all nothing but explainable, rational maladies of the body and mind; treatable with drugs and psychiatric application (Of course not every one who is mentally disturbed is “possessed” and Christians must be careful not to mislabel people who are suffering various maladies).

Yet there is a biblical difference that needs to remain distinct; most often those who were afflicted by demons were able to recognize Jesus for Who He is, with no apparent, visible evidence to suggest such. We have such an example in this chapter, just a few verses below, and it is repeated in Mark's and Luke's Gospel accounts (MARK 1:24; LUKE 4:34). There is the very real, legitimate and interactive spiritual domain of darkness that cannot be avoided or ignored by the Christian; to do so would be to imperil one's spiritual safety just as surely as a soldier who walks out into the battlefield, ignoring the bullets and bombs that fly all about him (EPH. 6:10-17; 2 COR. 2:11). We need not fear this empire of evil under the command of Satan; but we do need to be aware of it, on guard against it, and standing up to it by holy opposition!

Finally I notice that the LORD cast these spirits out, not by ritual and ceremony as dictated by the folk lore of cultures or by religious dogma, but by His Word. We as saints carry such authority ourselves in the NAME of JESUS CHRIST (ACTS 16:18; LK. 10:17-19).


MATTHEW 8:18-2218 Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.

19 And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.

20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

21 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.

22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

The LORD issued orders to depart and cross over the Sea of Galilee, but before He and His disciples actually leave, two men came to Him with words that we must ponder.

The first states that he will follow the LORD anywhere He goes. The LORD responds to this in a manner that would direct this man to consider the cost of discipleship. He basically was saying, If you're going to follow Me, understand that we are traveling a road of simplistic, even poor living (2 COR. 11:27). The saint must never regard the value of this world and worldly possessions to the extent that it interferes with his God-given mission to preach the Gospel, make disciples, to stand for righteousness and oppose evil. This mission will win us no friends of this world, to say nothing of its material wealth and those who are considering following the LORD must ask themselves this question:

“Am I willing to surrender my life, all of my life along with my plans, ambitions, dreams and desires and give myself unreservedly to the LORD, to do what He wants and live my life solely for Him?”

The other man, who was named a disciple in these verses stated that he wanted first to go and bury his father before he followed the LORD. Most likely his father was still very much alive. I understand that this was a colloquialism of that day which meant, “Let me wait until my father dies (and I come into his inheritance) and then I will follow You LORD.”

Yet the LORD's answer to this second man is no less challenging than the first. “Let the dead bury the dead – but follow Me!” In other words, let the spiritually dead citizens of this world deal with such matters; what you have before you is the business of My Kingdom and pertains to the issues of eternal life, not recognizing personal wealth (in this case one's familial inheritance) as something of priority!




MATTHEW 8:23-2723 And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.

24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.

25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.

26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.

27 But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!


For a full treatment of this passage and of the other incident in which the disciples crossed over Galilee, I would like the reader to consider this article FROM the MIND of FIRE (FMF):


A DIFFERENT SERMON ON ANOTHER MOUNT 


MATTHEW 8:28-29

28 And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.

29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?


Here again we have an example of demonic possession regarding two men so enslaved by such satanic power. Let us take note of some of the characteristics of these entities:

These men came out to meet the LORD from the tombs; as is often the case, those who are possessed are heavily obsessed with death and the dead (even instances of necrophilia have been noted among those who have been possessed of demonic spirits). They were “exceeding fierce” or in other words overwhelmingly savage, brutal, etc. The demonic are often so violent and powerful that it takes several strong men to restrain such a person, even if they are a 98 lb. woman or a child that weighs far less.

From Luke's Gospel (Ch. 8) we also learn that this possessed man wore no clothes and that when attempts were made to restrain him with chains, he would simply break them off. Demonic people will often be extremely lewd and perverse in sexuality as well as physically strong. In Mark's Gospel of this same account (Ch. 5) we also learn that this poor man, enslaved to demonic spirits would routinely cut himself with stones. Demonically possessed people are prone towards self-destructive actions such as these (and others). In all three accounts, the demoniac understood who Jesus is, had knowledge of their fate (Gehenna, the lake of fire) and have a predilection for inhabiting bodies (preferably human, but also animals as well).

For more on demonic spirits, Dr. Scofield comments:

Devils, lit demons. To the reality and personality of demons the N.T. scriptures bear abundant testimony. As to their origin nothing is clearly revealed, but they are not to be confounded with the angels mentioned in 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6.

Summary: Demons are spirits Matthew 12:43-45 are Satan's emissaries; Matthew 12:26-27; 25:41 and so numerous as to make Satan's power practically ubiquitous; Mark 5:9. They are capable of entering and controlling both men and beasts Mark 5:8, 12-13 and earnestly seek embodiment, without which, apparently, they are powerless for evil.; Matthew 12:43-44; Mark 5:10-12. Demon influence and demon possession are discriminated in the N. T. Instances of the latter are Matthew 4:24; Matthew 8:16, 28, 33; 9:32; 12:22; Mark 1:32; Mark 5:15-16, 18; Luke 8:35; Acts 8:7; 16:16. They are unclean, sullen, violent, and malicious; Matthew 8:28; 9:23; 10:1; Matthew 12:43; Mark 1:23; 5:3-5; Mark 9:17, 20; Luke 6:18; 9:39. They know Jesus Christ as Most High God, and recognize His supreme authority Matthew 8:31-32; Mark 1:24; Acts 19:15; James 2:19. They know their eternal fate to be one of torment Matthew 8:29; Luke 8:31. They inflict physical maladies Matthew 12:22; 17:15-18; Luke 13:16 but mental disease is to be distinguished from the disorder of mind due to demonical control. Demon influence may manifest itself in religion asceticism and formalism 1 Timothy 4:1-3 degenerating into uncleanness 2 Peter 2:10-12. The sign of demon influence in religion is departing from the faith, i.e. the body of revealed truth in the Scriptures 1 Timothy 4:1. The demons maintain especially a conflict with believers who would be spiritual Ephesians 6:12; 1Timothy 4:1-3. All unbelievers are open to demon possession Ephesians 2:2 . The believer's resources, prayer and bodily control Matthew 17:21 "the whole armour of God" Ephesians 6:13-18. Exorcism in the name of Jesus Christ Acts 16:18 was practised for demon possession. One of the awful features of the apocalyptic judgments in which this age will end is an eruption of demons out the abyss. Revelation 9:1-11.



MATTHEW 8:30-34

30 And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.

31 So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.

32 And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.

33 And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.

34 And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.


It is truly a sad state of affairs that where the LORD Jesus delivered a people from spiritual darkness, they would in turn request that He would leave their city. I am afraid that the climate in today's world would not have any fairer response to the LORD, particularly here in the United States where monuments and rituals of the Satanic sort are beginning to enter the mainstream public life.

We long for the day when Satanic entities of the angelic as well as the human sort are no longer polluting the world which God had created and that the overt and righteous reign of the LORD Jesus Christ is in evidence, much to the overwhelming joy and peace of the saints. Even so, come quickly LORD Jesus!

So ends Ch. 8 of our study in Matthew; onto Ch. 9 LORD willing and in His time! Until then remember: JESUS SAVES, Satan enslaves!

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