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Bible Studies for Life

Sunday, April 27

with Becky Brown

Hope Found

Matthew 8:1-13

Sunday before last, we rejoiced in hope at the picture of physically crippled and wounded Mephibosheth dining in Jerusalem at the table of King David. Whosoever will bow in true humility will be fully restored. Thanks to the fulfillment of covenant promises, despair was busted.

Last Sunday, we rejoiced in the eternal promise that even though we are spiritually crippled and wounded, we are offered the opportunity to dine in the New Jerusalem at the table of Jesus, The King OF David. Whosever will stand at the empty tomb in complete surrender will be fully redeemed. Thanks to the power of the resurrection, death was dusted.

In our lesson for this coming Sunday, we return to our theme of hope. In the gospel of Matthew, we are introduced to a man with leprosy and a Roman military officer with a servant who needed a healing touch. Both of these men found hope, help and healing by seeking an audience with Jesus. Hope is the reward for those who find their treasure in Christ.

Chapter 8 of Matthew begins with these words, “And when He (Jesus) had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.” A day in the life of Jesus always meant dealing with lots of different people who followed Him for lots of different reasons. Some were curious about Him. Some sought to derail Him. Some completely supported Him. Some simply wanted to be with Him.

Jesus had just delivered the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Matthew 5,6 & 7. As He came down the mountain, Jesus encountered a man with leprosy. I have wondered if that man had been forbidden to be “on the mountain” to hear the message of Jesus because of his physical malady of leprosy. Lepers were forced to live apart from others. They were commanded to be covered in sack cloth and ashes as though they were in a perpetual state of mourning for their “lost/dead” life. They were not allowed in worship settings or any other gatherings. They were considered unclean. To touch a leper would cause one to also be unclean.

I believe this desperate man was waiting for Jesus to come down his side of the mountain. He showed great faith that Jesus could make him well again and restore him to his loved ones. There was one thing that this leper did not expect or even dare to anticipate: Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him. Scripture says that he was cleansed and healed immediately of leprosy.

See, I also believe that Jesus intentionally chose that particular foot path down the mountain. He knew exactly where that man was and what that man needed. That promiscuous woman of Sychar needed living water. Jesus stopped beside her water well. That penny pincher Zacchaeus needed repentance and forgiveness. Jesus stopped underneath his sycamore tree.

Later, Jesus returned to Capernaum, the home base of His earthly ministry. As Jesus entered town, He was approached by a Roman military officer who was asking Jesus to heal his servant who was paralyzed and in pain and about to perish. This man was a centurion, a commander over 100 Roman soldiers. Jesus agreed to travel to the officer’s home and heal his servant. Since this centurion understood the power of authority and spoken commands, he believed that Jesus had authority to heal with only a word. This meant that the man trusted that with a spoken word from the mouth of Jesus, his servant would be completely healed, whether Jesus was present with the servant or not!

What does it take to AMAZE Jesus? The trust and confidence this centurion displayed gave Jesus an opportunity to bless such a demonstration of faith. Jesus told the centurion to return to his home and he would find his servant healed, ready and waiting to return to service. The report would return to Capernaum that during that very same hour, the servant was completely healed.

The leper was healed with a personal touch of the hand of Jesus. The centurion’s servant was healed with a personal word from the mouth of Jesus. In scripture, leprosy is a metaphor for sinfulness. We are unclean and separate from Jesus. You and I are LEPERS in need of the cleansing, healing touch of Jesus. You and I are paralyzed servants who wait for the healing word from the mouth of Jesus that allows us to become LEAPERS!

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Brown is staff evangelist at First Church, Richland