The 7 Prayers of Matthew 8
This series is called “The Gospel of Jesus”, and we are striving to keep Him the focus all the while…and our Lord makes that easy to accomplish all the time. In today’s text His ministry is in full swing as Jesus descends the mount He gave His great sermon upon and works some amazing healings and miracles, and as we study this we’ll learn about the miracles He wants to do in our lives and in our world today, and how our prayers can make all the difference!
There are 7 prayers in this chapter, and many other amazing truths. Let’s do a flyby and observe from a bird’s eye view…
1. The Cry of Misery
v. 2 “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”
Leprosy is a loathsome disease, still active in some parts of the world including Thailand where Kimberly’s uncle had an orphanage…he worked w/ lepers there as well. It was much more prominent in Bible days, and much worse. The skin rots, entire limbs and digits can fall off…yet it all starts w/ just little white spots.
This man in v. 2 was probably living in a leper colony, isolated and exiled from society…then he heard about the Lord, and he believed that if only he could get to Jesus, he could be healed.
He approached the Lord and would have proclaimed, “unclean, unclean!” as the law required. Bystanders would be outraged at his actions (“how dare he?”), but would scatter to a distance.
Leprosy in the Bible is a picture of sin. For instance:
In this man’s case, he was probably out plowing one day, and noticed a little white spot on his hand…just a little white spot! Like us, he probably didn’t think much of it. But over time it grew, and eventually he was forced to take it seriously. He went and showed the priest.
As the law required, the priest would have the man quarantined for 14 days, at the end of which the priest broke the bad news, you have leprosy, you’re going to die, you must be banished, separated away with others like yourself.
“Wait, I have to tell my wife goodbye”
No, that’s not possible, you can never go near her or your family again.
“Wait, just one hug from my children!”
No, you cannot…never again can you touch a clean person.
He was sent to a leper colony to die (the avg. lifespan for a leper in those days was 9 years)
Certainly he probably watched his children grow up from a distance…they would approach from the safety of a few hundred feet and would wave at him, leaving him food or a written message.
Soon the sores covered his whole body and became ulcerated, and would begin to bleed…then flesh would begin to fall off of his body, sometimes in large portions—fingers and toes first, perhaps an ear or part of the nose.
Lepers would begin to emit a foul odor so bad you could taste it. If you tried to lie down long to rest, the rats would come to eat off of your flesh. You couldn’t sit on a rock, it was against the law, lest someone else sit there later and contract the loathsome disease. He couldn’t drink from a stream, either.
The voice would become raspy and the breath wheezy, and then he would know there wasn’t much longer for him.
He was a total outcast, totally isolated/exiled/despised. His leprosy was a picture of the filthiness/rottenness/putridity of sin…a picture the devil doesn’t want us to see today. Satan presents sin as pleasant, alluring, and enjoyable…and he never shows us the ultimate results of sin!
Sin always starts out rather innocently: just a little white spot (glass of champagne on an anniversary, just a beer w/ the boys…but the man has the drink, then the drink has a drink, and then the drink has the man!)
How does adultery begin?...as just a little white spot. An innocent flirtation, listening to a co-worker share their problems at home, consoling them a little…then emotions are added to the already present physical attraction, lust leads to sin, something physical happens, adultery occurs, and lives are ruined by the deadly leprosy of sin!
A teenager has just a little white spot on their record, that friend from the wrong crowd…the devil makes sure it all comes together one night at the wrong place, at the wrong time, the circumstances snowball on them, and they do something they would never have dreamed of doing when the night began…and everyone knows now, or their picture’s in the paper, someone’s life has been destroyed, somebody’s got a disease, somebody’s pregnant, or somebody’s dead! A deadly dose of leprosy has crept in…and it all started as a little white spot!
Ill.—King David had just a little white spot of laziness one day, didn’t go out to war…but idle hands found something to do, laziness gave way to lust and adultery ensued, followed by lies, deceit, and murder! He lost his children/family/kingdom…how did it begin again? Just a little white spot!
The OT says,
Song 2:15 Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines…
Over the years I’ve counseled w/ hundreds who never intended on having their life crumble away and rot w/ leprosy, but it happened almost w/out their knowing it…because they didn’t pay much attention to just a little white spot, a little fox in the vineyard!
Oh, the cunning, deceiving leprosy of a little sin!
Well, in Bible days, there was no cure for leprosy…all you could do was exile and ostracize.
In the 20th century, mankind cured a lot of diseases, but one thing mankind has never done, is devise a cure for the sin problem. The only cure for the leprosy of sin is the Lord Jesus Christ!
But the leper’s misery met the Lord’s mercy that day, and this prayer was answered.
v. 3 The man came to Jesus and said, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean (not if you can, but if you will) He had confidence in Jesus.
What an awesome scene: This hopeless, helpless man stands before the Great Physician Who has never lost a patient (the blind always went away seeing, deaf hearing, lame walking)
He touched the leper and healed him, too.
v. 4 Ironic, isn’t it? Jesus said, “don’t tell anybody”, and he went and told everybody, according to Mark’s gospel. Then Jesus tells US to “go tell everybody”, and we don’t tell anybody!
Mark says this man began to “blaze abroad”. That doesn’t mean he set his wife on fire…but rather that he broadcast the good news to anyone who would listen!
The world is in misery and they need God’s mercy…and it’s only a prayer away…IF we point them in the right direction!
That leads us to prayer #2…
2. The Cry of Compassion
“Lord, my servant lieth at home sick”
v. 5-7 Palsy = paralysis
This Roman leader of 100 soldiers showed compassion in his prayer for his servant…perhaps one of his men. He asked not for himself, though he likely had great needs. But he used his prayer to ask for someone who had it worse than he did.
Jesus said, “I will”. So far today He has been asked twice to heal someone, and both times He has said it was His will. And the day is not over. In v. 14-15 he touches and heals Peter’s mother in law [was he thankful for that? J ] In v. 16 it is that evening and Jesus is casting out devils and healing all the sick who came to Him.
Is it always God’s will to heal? On this day it was! And you don’t know until you ask. But in Biblical context, it’s not always in His will. You’d have to cut out a whole lot of the Bible to disagree on that one.
Why Jesus Performed Miracles:
We serve a God who is concerned about more than our eternal needs…also our temporal needs! [see v. 17]
The Jews required a sign, and Jesus proved He was the Messiah over and over again.
Conveying His power…revealing that what He could do in the physical realm He could also do in the spiritual realm.
Can heal leprosy…can heal sin!
Pray a prayer of compassion, like the centurion did. And make it a prayer of faith…
3. The Cry of Faith
v. 8 “Lord, speak the word only”
v. 10 This didn’t say much for the Jews faith. Only two times in the Bible does the Lord Jesus “marvel.” Here he marvels at the faith of this Gentile and proclaims that this man’s faith is greater than any faith he has found in Israel. The other time, the Lord marvels at the LACK of faith of the Jews…
Mark 6:6 And he marvelled because of their unbelief.
It’s all about faith. It’s the only thing that pleases Him. The only 2 times Jesus marvels it’s either about faith or the lack thereof!
What a prayer of faith from this centurion.
v. 13 It happened because of the prayer of faith.
James 5:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick…
Again, all within God’s sovereign will. But I wonder what prayers God is willing to answer, if only we’ll ask Him?!
4. The Cry of Procrastination
v. 21 “Me first”
It’s a matter of priority. Doing God’s work is more important than anything else. Jesus is weeding out the half-hearted disciples. Elsewhere, talking about the bread of life, Jesus gave other hard sayings about the serious work of the ministry, and the Bible says many of them turned and followed Him no more. It’s best to get down to the serious group and go forward together!
5. The Cry of Fear
v. 23-27 “Lord, save us: we perish.”
The Lord “rebuked” the winds. The devil is said to be “the prince of the power of the air…” (Eph. 2:2). Also, in Job, it was the devil that caused the “great wind from the wilderness” which destroyed the house and Job’s children in the house (Job 1:19)!
Ps. 89:8 O LORD God of hosts, who is a strong LORD like unto thee? or to thy faithfulness round about thee? 9 Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them.
The storms of life don’t bother the Lord, but one call from His disciples brought Him to their rescue immediately!
Ps. 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
6. The Cry of Opposition
v. 29 “What have we to do with Thee?”
The devils know who Jesus Christ is (James 2:19; Acts 19:15), and here they are begging Him not to torment them before the time!
James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
Acts 19:15 And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
The devils know they are going to be tormented for ever (Rev. 20:10).
Rev. 20:10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
In Luke 8:31 they, “besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep,” and in Rev. 9:2 the deep is defined as, “the bottomless pit.” [The same word used for “deep” is used for “bottomless pit.”]
After his salvation, the man was found, “sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind” (Mark 5:15). Mark also adds that the man wanted to go with Jesus (Mark 5:19).
Mark 5:19 Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.
7. The Cry of Rejection
v. 34 They besought Him that He would depart.”
The tremendous transformation of the man put fear in the people and caused them to desire Jesus to depart from them. The results are often the same today when a man who has been living a wild and uncontrolled life suddenly gets saved. His friends and family don’t understand, and they want him to depart from them (Luke 12:51-53)!
Luke 12:51 Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: 52 For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. 53 The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father…
Another reason the men wanted Jesus to leave was that he interfered with their business. They were more concerned about the loss of their hogs than they were about the healing of the maniac.
1Tim. 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
Matt. 16:26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
Jesus did 5 great miracles in Capernaum, and they still rejected Him! (their judgment will be greater… for Jesus said “if I had done them [miracles] in Sodom and Gomorrah they would have repented!”)
5 awesome miracles…7 very ‘telling’ prayers. Don’t reject Him, [will He knock forever?] don’t ignore Him, don’t act as though you want to be left alone, or He just might do it! Don’t put it off saying, “me first”, but cry out in fear “save me, I perish!” Cry out in faith, believing on Him as your only hope. Christians, can you hear the cries of misery. Let’s show compassion for others who need the miraculous touch of our Lord!
[Outline from ‘Handfuls on Purpose’ by James Smith]
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