Matthew 8

The Signs of the Kingdom of God[a]

Ten Miracles[b]

Chapter 8

Jesus Heals a Man with Leprosy.[c] 1 When he had come down from the mountain, large crowds followed him. 2 Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached, knelt before him, and said, “Lord, if you choose to do so, you can make me clean.” 3 He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do choose. Be made clean.” Immediately, his leprosy was cured. 4 Then Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one, but go and show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses prescribed. That will be proof for them.”

Jesus Heals the Centurion’s Servant.[d] 5 When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and pleaded for his help. 6 “Lord,” he said, “my servant is lying at home paralyzed and enduring agonizing sufferings.” 7 Jesus said to him, “I will come and cure him.” 8 The centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. But simply say the word and my servant will be healed.[e] 9 For I myself am a man subject to authority, with soldiers who are subject to me. I say to one ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed, and he said to those who were following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one throughout Israel have I found faith as great as this. 11 Many, I tell you, will come from the east and the west to sit with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the heirs of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

13 Jesus then said to the centurion, “Return home. Your petition has been granted because of your faith.” And at that very hour the servant was healed.

14 Jesus Heals Peter’s Mother-in-Law. Jesus then entered the house of Peter and found Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to serve him.

16 Jesus Drives Out the Evil Spirits.[f] That evening they brought to him many who were possessed by demons. He cast out the spirits with a command and cured all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfill the words of the prophet Isaiah:

“He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.”

18 The Cost of Following Jesus.[g] When Jesus saw the great crowds around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19 A scribe approached him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” 20 Jesus told him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man[h] has nowhere to lay his head.” 21 Another man, one of the disciples, said, “Lord, allow me to go first and bury my father.” 22 Jesus answered him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”

23 Jesus Calms the Storm.[i] He then got into the boat, followed by his disciples. 24 Suddenly, a great storm came up on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves. But he was asleep. 25 And so they went to him and awakened him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are going to die!” 26 He said to them in reply, “Why are you so frightened, O you of little faith?”

Then he stood up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27 They were amazed and asked, “What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?”

28 Jesus Heals Two Demon-Possessed Men.[j] When he reached the region of the Gadarenes[k] on the other side of the lake, two men who were possessed by demons came out of the tombs and approached him. They were so fiercely violent that no one dared to pass that way. 29 Suddenly, they shouted, “What do you want with us, Son of God?[l] Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?”

30 Some distance away a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31 The demons pleaded with him, “If you cast us out, send us into the herd of pigs.” 32 He said to them, “Go, then!” They came out and entered the pigs. The entire herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake, and they perished in the water. 33 Those tending the pigs ran off, and when they reached the town, they related the whole story including what had happened to the men who had been possessed. 34 Then the whole town came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him they begged him to leave their region.

Footnotes

  1. Matthew 8:1 This section gathers together ten accounts of miracles of Jesus. Interspersed among them are sayings of Jesus about discipleship. This has led some authors to speak of a portrayal of Jesus as “Messiah of the Word” in chs. 5–7 and “Messiah of the Deed” in 8–9. By his sayings and actions Jesus bears witness that evil and sickness are no longer the last word for people, for human beings are not slaves of fate since the goodness of God is manifested in the goodness of Jesus.
  2. Matthew 8:1 The ten miracle stories found herein are a third of the miracle stories that are told in detail in all the Gospels together. But the New Testament contains repeated references to a thaumaturgic activity that was continual (see Mt 4:23; Lk 4:41; Acts 2:22).
  3. Matthew 8:1 Leprosy made a person ceremonially unclean as well as physically afflicted. The man with leprosy in this passage technically breaks the Law as he comes to prostrate himself at the feet of Jesus. The Master also breaks the Law when he touches the man and sovereignly decides to heal him. The sick man welcomes Christ’s word, and the kingdom is opened to him. He becomes a model and sign of the Christian made clean by Christ.
  4. Matthew 8:5 Jesus commends a Roman centurion (leader of a hundred soldiers) for having greater faith than any Israelite and prophesies the ingathering of the Gentiles before healing his servant from afar. This passage shows that the great pilgrimage of peoples toward the kingdom has begun and evokes the beautiful image of the feast wherein all believers are definitively gathered together. Outside of this communion and joy there is only darkness; the “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (a phrase found outside Matthew only in Lk 13:28) describes the anguish of those who have remained insensitive to the call that has been welcomed by the very people they have denigrated.
  5. Matthew 8:8 Lord, I am not worthy . . . will be healed: these words of the centurion have become those of believers who go to encounter the Lord in Holy Communion.
  6. Matthew 8:16 Jesus is the Servant announced by Isa 53:4 who will expiate the sins of humankind. By the power of his Word he triumphs over the evil that keeps human beings in bondage symbolized by sickness.
  7. Matthew 8:18 Jesus has subordinated family ties to the needs of his mission of salvation and requires the same sacrifice of those called to share that mission, while other members of the family can perform the deeds of filial piety. These are “dead” only in the sense that they have not received the same call to separate themselves from family responsibility in order to preach the Gospel of the kingdom. They can nonetheless be his disciples in another sense.
    Hence, following Jesus means Christians should be ready to make whatever sacrifice he asks of them. In the final analysis, they are followers of Christ, people who believe in him. They received faith in Christ at Baptism and are bound to serve him. By recourse to frequent prayer and true friendship with the Lord, they should strive to discover what Jesus asks of them in their service of him.
  8. Matthew 8:20 Son of Man: the most common and enigmatic title of Christ used in the Gospels (81 times) and in Acts 7:56—frequently by Christ himself. It was well suited to his purpose of both veiling and revealing his person and mission. On the one hand, it meant simply “man” (see Ezek 2:1) and emphasized the lowliness of the human condition (Mt 8:20; 11:19; 20:28), especially in Christ’s humiliation and death (Mt 17:22). On the other hand, it expressed the triumph of Christ’s Resurrection (Mt 17:9), his return to glory (Mt 24:30; Dan 7:13), and his Second Coming as judge of the world (Mt 25:31).
    Christ made use of this title at his trial before the Sanhedrin (Mt 26:64) when he prophesied that he would be vindicated and be seated in future glory at the right hand of God not merely as man but as Lord (see Dan 7:13; Mk 14:62).
    This title was employed by Jewish apocalyptic literature (1 Enoch, 2 Ezra, 2 Baruch) to describe a unique religious personage endowed with extraordinary spiritual power who would receive the kingdom from God at the end of the ages. Early Christians revered this title as a reminder of Christ’s twofold destiny of humiliation and joy, which was also their own (Mt 24:30f).
  9. Matthew 8:23 This passage attests to Jesus’ power over nature and its frightful forces. This fact is preserved as a sign, for the Church resembles a boat buffeted by so many storms. She is invited to place herself in Christ’s hands with great trust.
  10. Matthew 8:28 The sense of the anecdote about the pigs who serve as refuge for the demons and perish by drowning is that the Messiah has come; he triumphs over the evil powers that keep human beings in bondage and oppose the kingdom of God. The deliverance of the mentally ill signified that the “time” of the devil had come to an end. Thus, this is another account calling for confidence and courage in the struggle against evil. It must have especially delighted the Jews for whom pigs were unclean animals according to the Law (Lev 11:7) and who saw the pagan owners of the accursed flock suffering a loss.
  11. Matthew 8:28 Gadarenes: the city of Gadara was eight miles south of the lake.
  12. Matthew 8:29 Son of God: on the lips of the demons, this phrase is tantamount to “Messiah,” for they would scarcely set themselves in opposition to him if they knew his full divinity. The same title is given to Jesus in Mk 3:12. To torment us before the appointed time: to confine us to hell (see Lk 8:31) before the Last Judgment. Until then, the demons have a certain freedom to roam about the world (see 2 Pet 2:4 with 1 Pet 5:8).

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