Matthew 8:1-17 Part 5

At the end of chapter four and the end of chapter nine we read that Jesus was going about Galilee preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom and healing every kind of disease.  And for about a year we’ve been dealing with His first day of ministry, having covered His first sermon – the Sermon on the Mount – and, now, His first miracles.

During this past week my attention was called to something I had missed in our two-week examination of the centurion miracle here in verses five through thirteen.  It is important that I keep reminding you of God’s sovereignty in His salvation of His chosen people.

In verse eleven of the text last week we were dealing with the incorporation of the Gentile nations in the covenant of God.  Through the faith given to this Gentile, Roman soldier, and exhibited by him as he acknowledges Jesus’ total control over everything under His command, Jesus prophesies the adoption of the Gentiles East and West – from every tribe and nation – who will be caused to recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom!

I am prone to overlook sometimes those Theological certainties in which our two Churches are so steeped – such as election and sovereignty.  Sometimes I tend to take them for granted, and I take it for granted that you know them so well, so I move on quickly to the next part of the verse which has something in it that might not be so familiar.

But we still need to hear these doctrines preached!  And even if we didn’t need to hear them again, and we do, those listening on the audio tapes might!

So before we go on, let me just briefly mention that which is never mentioned by the false prophet pulpiteers of our day – that God in His Sovereign grace and mercy has chosen to include us Gentiles in His promise to Abraham; and, as the text so plainly states with the passive voice, causes us to recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom.  In other words, God is the causative agent – the first cause – in our incorporation into the covenant; and we are individually caused to be adopted into the family descending from Abraham – indicated here in the text by eating at the family table as family members.

The Gentile nations of Jesus’ day didn’t choose, in the midst of their abominable barbarianism, to become part and parcel of the body of Christ that day – but they were chosen by God to be recipients of His grace.  And each of us Gentiles, whose representative stood before Jesus that day in the garb of a Roman soldier, is an abomination before God – just as our former tribes and families were in Jesus’ day.  And we are no less than they chosen by the electing love of God to be members of His family.   We are all strangers and unclean creatures – unwashed, diseased, with soiled clothes; terrible idolatries, filthy language, unbelievable hedonism, filled with self, Satanistic and anti-Christ.  But God calls us in to His family, cleanses us, seats us at His Own table in the Kingdom, feeds us and forgives us our depravity!  He even makes us a part of His Own Son’s body!  The hospitality He affords us is astonishing – giving us shelter and light and life!  And He even promises us that we can never be separated from His family!

 The false teachers of our day would have us believe that we Gentiles can choose to be included in that family.  In fact, in order to be included we must choose to do so.   In other words, in their false doctrines God now stands at the door of every man’s heart and knocks.  And if that stupid, barbaric, evil, ante-Christ with the stone-dead, sin-rotted heart will choose to be alive, Jesus will save him!

But that’s not what Jesus says here in the text, is it?  And it’s not what Paul says, either!   Listen.  Romans nine:


18: Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will, and whom He will, He hardens.

19. You will say then unto me, why does He yet find fault?   For who has resisted His will?

20. No but, 0 man, who are you that replies against God?   Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, why have you made me this way?

21. Doesn’t the potter have power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?

22. What if God, willing to show wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction

23. and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory,

24. Even us, whom He has called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?

25. As He said also in Hosea:  I will call them My people who were not My people; and her beloved who was not beloved.

26. And it shall come to pass, in the place where it was said unto them, ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God.


Biblical Theology says that Christianity is God-centered, and that Jesus Christ is Jahveh, Lord of Hosts, the mediator between God and man for the glory of the Father!  But false theology, preached by the pseudo-prophet, says that Christianity is man-centered, and that Jesus Christ is the servant of man; and that He can do nothing except by the permission of man – for man’s glory!

But Jesus said that He came to glorify His Father and to obey His Father.  There is only ruin in the false prophet’s message; don’t listen to him.

Let’s go on to the text now – verse fourteen.  


“And Jesus, having come into Peter’s house saw his mother-in-law who had been laid down sick with a fever, and touched her hand, and her fever let go; and she got up and ministered to him.”


Jesus apparently was an invited guest for an evening meal at Peter’s house.  Gospel writer Mark mentions that James and John were also there – also apparently as invited guests – and the fisherman Peter lived in Capernaum where he had a home and a family.  At least a wife – because this is his mother-in-law who was sick.

The text says that she had a fever.  Luke says megas puresso – a great fever or a high fever.  But she was gravely ill.  And Luke says that they besought Jesus for help for her.

Now, I want you to see that this was a circumstance that was a little untimely, because Peter and James and John had all three been met by Jesus, and Jesus had revealed His Divine nature to them.  And they had believed Him and sworn to follow Him.  They knew that this was the Messiah sent from God.  And they had listened to Him preach and had watched Him rule the physical world all day!  And now they’re bringing the Son of God home with them to eat dinner!

And what do they find there when they arrive but Peter’s wife’s mother very sick – at a time when she was desperately needed to help serve!

But more that that – in those times a fever was considered demon possession! 

So, we don’t have here just a simple case of a lady of the house not being quite ready when the guests for a dinner party arrive, (so she goes into a panic!).  Here is the wife of an apostle of the Messiah – the One Promised in the scriptures – and she has to serve Him dinner and entertain, but her mother is in the next room with a demon!  As you can see, this isn’t spots on the glasses, or run out of salad dressing!  I’ll want to deal with the demon possession thing in more depth in a minute. (verse sixteen)  But you can see that this is not a tension-free event.

But, nevertheless, having been made aware of her illness, Jesus came to her.  Matthew says that He touched her hand.  Mark says Jesus raised her up by grasping her hand.  Luke says Jesus rebuked the fever – a statement which seems to address the demon-possession issue – but Matthew is content with the simplest explanation… the fever let go.  It obeyed.  It left her… again demonstrating Jesus’ power over every aspect of His Own creation.  Everything obeys!

And there seems to be no aftermath of the sickness – no weakness, no recovery time – the text says that she got up and “went to ministering to Him,” is the way the tenses of the verb indicate it.

Now, I think that most sermons on this text would concentrate on the “service after healing” aspect of this story.  That when you’ve received the blessings of God and you’re saved, that you should then go out and minister to others in the same way this lady did to Jesus.  Now, while that may be true, in my opinion that’s just an incidental truth to this text and not the crux of the matter.  I would certainly say that one who is the recipient of God’s mercy is one who is going to be merciful to others – we observed that when we were going through the character of Jesus in the beatitudes, didn’t we?  But it’s certainly not the main point for a sermon here!

And it’s also been the case that men have built sermons on the women’s deaconate from this text!  Now, that’s really far-fetched, isn’t it?  Just because Matthew used a feminized version of the Greek word “diaconas” or deacon, doesn’t mean that you can build a sermon advocating women in the office of the deaconate!  The word used here is the verb form, and it means “to serve” – or to minister.”  And it’s used that way a few other times in the Scriptures with reference to women.

But no women were ever elected or appointed to the office of deacon in the New Testament – they were only men.  And the rest of the teaching of the inspired writers of the Bible support that the men are to have authority in the Church, and only those men who meet the requirements.  The “office” of servant-to-the-needs-of-the-people is a man’s office.  Women “serve” the needs of their families, and they serve others as Christian women, but that’s not the elected or appointed office of servant!  It is the nature of the feminine gender when it is submitted to God to be serving; but it is a duty and responsibility laid upon selected men to be servants of God’s people.

So one just cannot build a case from this text, or any other text, for the women’s deaconate.  And wherever you see women in places of authority in the Church – there you have false prophets, feminism, liberalism, disobedience to Scripture, idolatry, and egocentric religion.  Democracy doesn’t work in the church.  This is a Monarchy – ruled by Christ and His Word.

But, back to the text, this is a very interesting and valid point here; that Peter’s mother-in-law got up and ministered to Jesus.  As I said, it’s incidental to the text, but it’s interesting.  We don’t know if there was some special duty that she performed for him such as helping Him to clean up, or removing his sandals and washing His feet, or simply falling down and worshipping Him; maybe she just pitched in with her daughter to get all these quests served dinner!  Anyway, it’s nice to think about all those things – and what must have been that conversation in the kitchen between here and here daughter – and the excitement of having the Messiah of God heal her from being gravely ill!  I, personally, would have loved to have been there at the dinner to hear all that was said.  And to eat a meal with the Creator of the food!  Of course, the meal we will eat shortly is vastly more significant and carries with it all the wonders of being in His body.  Preparations are a wondrous event.

But let’s go on: 


“And when evening came…” verse sixteen, “And when evening came they brought many demoniacs to Him; and He expelled the spirits by a Word; and He healed all those who were grievously ill, in order that that which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, ‘He bore our infirmities and took away our diseases.’”


Now, I don’t know if you remember this or not.  But in our first three sermons – the introductory sermons – in preparation for the line by line exegesis of the text of Matthew, I said that one of the things that was occurring as the time drew near for Jesus to establish His Kingdom and terminate the Old Covenant nation, was that Israel was becoming more and more satanic.  As the manifestation of Israel’s deep seated rebellion against God and His Word came about, two things accompanied it.  First, in the non-religious, secular society, demonic activity blossomed.  And, secondly, in the religious community (not Godly, now, but religious) the conversation, the religious awareness, became demon centered!  In other words, everything had its own demon!   In reading up on this this week, it became clear that the Jews were so “ghost” aware, and so “demon aware” that every event was fearful, superstitious and demon-possessed!

If a man lusted after a woman, it was a demon.  Anything out of the ordinary was a demon.  Any sickness was a demon – especially fever!  The whole society, having turned away from God, began experiencing demonic activity!   Much of it real – and, of course, we know what was happening, don’t we?  Satan was working hard to cut off the covenant people from God!  And the activity of his angels was at a boiling point!

So the ministry of Jesus was the point around which all of the demonic activity swirled.  And, of course, the emancipation of man from the depravity of sin and Satan was the cause of His coming.  And with all this going on it’s no wonder that He had demoniacs – both real and imagined – to deal with.  I’m not saying that Peter’s mother-in-law was an imagined demoniac, but Luke’s words in his text sure do sound like it!  And Matthew’s rendering of this event is placed right with the text having to do with the demoniacs being brought to Jesus in the evening.

And, by the way, it looks as if the consensus of opinion is that the demoniacs and those who were grievously ill – being brought to Him (that’s the key) means that this was a Sabbath day, which was over at the point of sundown, and people could do the work of carrying people to Jesus.

But this demon thing is important for us to understand, here.  I looked back carefully in the history of Israel, and there was just hardly any mention of it in Jewish society!  There was some – and, you remember, God had commanded His people not to consult with necromancers and witches – and seers – and there was always some falling away into satanic activity.  But it was never a problem for the nation, and it never came to the point where it was a national issue.  It never reached a point where there was even a peculiar word for it in the Old Testament Text!  Demon possession and spirits and ghosts and weird things like that never troubled the nation – until the period leading up to the coming of Christ – until that period when God began cutting them off and casting them out into external darkness.

You also remember that constant contact with the spirit world in the mystery religions of the surrounding Gentile nations is historical fact; and Israel was being cast out into that demonic, dark world.  And, at the point of their being cut off, everything, as I said, became demonic – both real and imagined.  Both religious and non-religious.  The infestation of satanic angels was real, as we know from the Scripture texts, and they were legion!

And I just want to quickly make the present-day point-of-contact with this text, because I think that the same things are happening today in the United States.  Listen to this:  We have huge numbers of people in psychiatric hospitals today – and millions more on psychotherapeutic agents, not to speak of the damning drug centered self-inflicted psychosis!  So-called churches are being established in remarkable numbers to worship Satan himself.  There is open and blatant and unashamed rebellion against God and His Son and His Church.  Astrology is of so vital interest it is more widely read than any other section of the newspaper.  New age mysticism, which is the modern resurgence of Babylonian mysticism of the time of Christ, is so capturing the imaginations of people that our bookstores and record shops are shifting their advertising focus to that segment of society because that’s where the big bucks are!

The seasons of the year are no longer religious. i.e. – the Easter bunny, and Santa Claus!  The colors of God’s fall season are now in our minds are now shifted to represent the season for halloween where demonology is celebrated with more and more delight!  Year after year Halloween becomes more and more important as we cover up the reality of it by claiming it’s just for the children!

You know we just had a United Nations summit on children.  But if the United Nations was really concerned for children and really loved them, they might start by canceling halloween instead of trick-or-treating for unicef!  Love the children by, at least, moving them away from blatant demonism!

The last four or five decades have seen a sharp interest in UFO activity and movies about extra terrestrials and ghosts and demon possession and exorcisms.  There is a national delight with it!  The secular delight is obvious.  But it’s the religious interest that’s so appalling!  As you all know, we’re back to square one with everything having its own demon (as Israel claimed) – the demon of lust, the demon of alcohol, the demon of smoking, the demon of anger – whatever the trouble is, just like Israel in the time of Christ, it’s a demon!  The Church today seems to be delighting in the subject!  They talk about them and pray to them and exorcise them….  There is such an intense interest!

But you know – people of God with solid theology and consistent worship habits never experience any of theses things.  Just like the covenanted nation of God in the Old Testament, it’s just not a part of their lives.  It never troubles them.

But it’s a major part of the national scene.  And we as God’s people must deal with it.  At least don’t participate in it.  Face the twenty-eighth of October – halloween – and the twenty-fifth of April – Easter - with the Gospel which caused the Reformation.  Don’t let them have the day.  Take it away from them.  Christ is King.  And everywhere you go He reigns, for you are a part of His body.  You are separated out.

As the text says, quoting from the prophecy of Isaiah, “He Himself bore and took away our diseases.”  Jesus, the Reality of the prophecy, vicariously assumed the burden of sin and death.  He is the Burden-Bearer who loaded on Himself all of our sins and their consequences.  He is our substitute sufferer.

And we live in Him.  And that faithful life in Him annuls any attempt on us by satanic aggression.  And this morning we “figure” that life in Him by figuratively becoming one in Him.  Together we eat His body and drink His blood – becoming one together in Him.  And there, there is covenantal surety that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.