Mat 8:2-4 What is it about leprosy that makes it a fitting picture of the uncleanness of our sin nature? Note: “Leprosy, beginning with little pain, goes on in its sluggish but sure course, until it mutilates the body, deforms the features, turns the voice into a croak, and makes the patient a hopeless wreck” (Fausset’s Bible Dictionary); it was also considered incurable (see 2Ki 5:1-7), so that those smitten by it were considered a “walking tomb”. See Lev 13:45-46; in what way is the contagious nature of leprosy also a fitting picture of sin? In this light, why is it especially significant that Jesus reached out and actually touched the leper? Cf. Mat 1:23, Rom 5:8. What does the leper’s cleansing teach us about the Lord’s power to save us completely and immediately from our sins? What is our part in this transformation? See Mat 8:2. What was the offering that Moses commanded to be offered for the cleansing of a leper, and how did its various parts point to Christ? See Lev 14:1-20. Considering the incurable nature of leprosy, why would the offering have especially been a testimony of God’s power to save us from our sins? Why did Jesus warn the leper, as well as many others He healed (see Mat 9:27-30, 12:15-16, 17:9, Mar 3:10-12, 5:41-43, 7:32-36, 8:29-30, Luk 4:41) to “tell no one”? Hint: what sort of Messiah were the people expecting, and how did that contrast with the true mission and purpose of Jesus as the Messiah? Cf. Joh 6:15. What additional danger would Jesus’ open assertion that He was the Messiah put Him in with the Roman and Jewish authorities? Consider the Pax Romana and cf. Act 5:36-37, Joh 11:45-50, Mat 26:63. Who is the one person to whom Jesus openly identified Himself? See John 4:25-26. Why is it significant that she wasn’t a Jew?
Mat 8:5-13 Compare these verses with their parallel in Luk 7:1-10, where the servant (lit. “boy”) is further identified as a slave (Greek doulos); how does this picture of a master/slave relationship contrast with the common notion people have of slavery today? In what way does it illustrate our own relationship to Christ? Do you think the centurion’s care and concern for his slave contributed to Jesus’ praise for his faith? What is the most notable difference between Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts of this episode? Compare Mat 8:5 with Luk 7:3,6. What does this teach us about the Biblical understanding of actions performed through others under one’s authority or direction? What two things did the centurion say that expressed his great faith and that Jesus commended him for? See Mat 8:8-9. Do we possess the same humility to see ourselves as we rightly are in relation to the Lord? Do we understand, as the centurion did, the authority that resides in Christ to accomplish His will with only a word? What “soldiers” are under Christ to do His will? See Mat 8:27, 26:53, Mar 1:27, Luk 12:8-9, Heb 1:14. Recall the “sitz im leben” at the time of Matthew’s writing, that as the gospel spread more and more to the Gentiles the Jews became increasingly antagonistic toward it and began to reject it in increasing numbers, so that Matthew’s gospel was a timely apologia to the unbelieving Jews that Jesus was the promised Jewish Messiah, and to the believing Jews for why so many of their brethren were rejecting it; in this light, what is the significance of Jesus’ words in Mat 8:11-12 and that He had not found such great faith “with anyone in Israel” as He had with the Roman centurion? Who else does Matthew say Jesus commended for a great faith? See Mat 15:28; cf. 28:19. To what does outer darkness refer where “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth”? Cf. Mat 13:42,50, 22:12-13, 24:51, 25:30, Luk 13:24-28, 2Pe 2:4,17, Jud 1:13. What is the spiritual significance of “outer darkness”? See Joh 8:12, 1Jo 1:5 and note that the Greek word used is superlative in meaning and refers to a place farthest removed from light. Is weeping and gnashing of teeth a good thing? Is there a parallel danger to Christians today that Matthew was warning his Jewish readers against?