Matthew 8 Talks About What It Means to Have Faith and What it Takes to Follow Christ

understanding Matthew 8

This devotional study on Matthew 8 is divided in 8 sections. Know what it means to have faith, what it takes to follow Christ, and more

Section 1
Devotional Reading: Matthew 8:1-3
Marked: vs.2b-3a
Notes /Impressions:
  • Leprosy was regarded as a curse from God that can only be cured through supernatural means. (Num.12:10-15; 2 Kings 5:9-14). Lepers were avoided back then and anyone touching them could become ritually unclean. But Jesus broke the norm here as He touched this man and healed him.  
  • The man trusted Him fully. He had genuine faith. He left it all to Jesus to decide what to do with him.
Lesson(s) Learned:
  • Jesus broke norms when He ministered to people. He didn’t care what tradition dictated He would be when He touched and helped this man. 
Our ministries shouldn’t be bound by traditions. Without compromising Biblical principles, we should do what we can to reach out and minister to people.
  • The man showed genuine faith when he begged Jesus. He knew that Jesus could easily heal him but he left it to Jesus (“if you will”) to decide what to do with him. 
This is in direct contradiction to what many teach today that if we believe, God will have to do something. God most definitely can, but we’ll have to consider first what He desires for us. As we learn to trust Jesus’ power, we need to fully trust His judgment first. 

Section 2
Devotional Reading: Matthew 8:4
Marked verses: vs.4
Notes /Impressions:
  • Why did Jesus tell this leper not to tell anyone about his healing? Was it because many were already coming to Him for the sole purpose of getting physical healing? Such is sometimes the case when we focus more on “meeting physical needs” around us and forgetting the more important task of bringing people to worship God. History tells us of how noble plans of helping (by some churches) ended as mere charity work, without anymore the goal of bringing people to an awareness of God.
  • Why did Jesus send the cleansed leper to present himself to the priest? He knew that these priests do not and will not believe in Him. Was it to give them a chance still, so that they have no excuse?  
Lesson(s) Learned:
  1. In the cause of helping people, we should never lose sight of why we do good and why we establish testimony, which is all for the testimony of God being in us, working through us, and bringing people to see Him and seek Him.
  2. In speaking to non-believers, it is easy for us sometimes to dismiss talking to some individuals, just because we think they will not listen anyway. We become biased in opinion and rash with judgment. Let everyone have their chance at hearing about God, regardless of background or belief. God desires everyone to be saved, which means He wants everyone to hear despite the fact that many of those who hear may never even care to listen.  

Section 3
Devotional Reading: Matthew 8:5-13
Marked verses: vs.8b, 13b
Notes /Impressions:
  • The account in Luke 7:2-10 shows that this Gentile Centurion sent request through messengers, thinking he was unfit to come before Jesus and even have Him in his house.
  • The centurion, being a man authorized and with authority himself, fully understood how Jesus wielded God’s authority (vs.9). He also fully understood the kind of power that went with the authority. (vs.8). That’s why he believed that all it would take was Jesus’ command to let his servant be healed. 
Lesson(s) Learned:    
  1. God answers our prayers not because we believed or because of how much we believed it, but because of our faith in Who He is, His capability, His perfect judgment, and His wisdom & timing in dealing with us. 
  2. Faith is the key. One doesn’t get saved just because of membership in a group, like these Jews who thought that being descendants of Abraham automatically gave them access to the Kingdom.

Section 4
Devotional Reading: Matthew 8:14-17
Marked verses: vs.15-16
Notes /Impressions: 
  • Jesus’ miraculous healing of sicknesses and casting out of demons left no room for any doubts. The healings were immediate and non-selective, unlike supposed ‘healings’ today that needs healing time for full recovery and that applies only to those who supposedly ‘believes enough’ to be healed. 
  • Unlike today’s belief (in some extreme charismatic groups) that all sicknesses are a result of demonic activities, this passage differentiates demonic oppression from sicknesses & diseases. (Of course, not discounting the possibility of some sicknesses being demon-induced). 
Lesson(s) Learned: 
  • Jesus’ healings weren’t progressively slow and discriminative. It demonstrated His power and authority. That’s why the results were immediate and it demonstrated His ministry. That’s why He welcomed and healed everyone who came. 
  • It wasn’t up to how or how much the people (who came for healing) believed, but it was all up to His will and how He wanted to demonstrate that He truly is the Messiah. The few accounts of Jesus’ admiration of the faith of those seeking His miracles were simply examples of faith to emulate and not necessarily examples to follow on how to get Him to answer our prayers. 
  • Faith is very important, but it is not what heals. Faith is not a power but an access to the power. Faith is plainly believing the capability of the One who truly heals and trusting His wisdom to choose when, how, or if the healing will happen.

Section 5
Devotional Reading: Matthew 8:18-22
Marked verses: vs.20, 22
Notes /Impressions:
  • The account in Luke 9:57-62 deals with three would-be followers. Matthew leaves out the third person from Luke’s account here (obviously not part of his emphasis). His first would-be follower here is a scribe, a teacher of the law himself, who is most probably attracted to the teachings and the ways of Jesus, the Master Teacher. He wanted to learn from Jesus but I believe his motivation was fame & glory. Jesus’ reply helps him count the cost of being a true disciple. 
  • The 1st would-be follower was rash and presumptuous. The 2nd was too hesitant to decide. There are differing views as to the actual circumstance of this 2nd would-be follower, but most teachers agree that his excuse was actually a request for a time away from Jesus. Jesus’ reply does not in any way dissuade anyone from honoring his/her parents (15:3-9). This is simply a matter of prioritizing Jesus.
Lesson(s) Learned: 
  1. We should carefully and conscientiously count the cost of following the Lord; not to reject it if we deem it difficult, but rather to avoid a rash decision we might renege from later, or to avoid the later regret of not making the right decision. We need to make sure we prepare ourselves for a lasting commitment and a wholehearted decision. 
  2. The true disciple will always find himself in demanding and complicated situations. Following Jesus requires much sacrifice, and oftentimes it puts us in difficult situations, bringing us more discomforts than what we expect. But in the end, the temporal discomforts are far outweighed by the earthly, spiritual, and heavenly blessings.
  3. The call to follow Jesus is a call to prioritize Him. It is not always a choice between what’s good and what’s bad. At times (such as this one), it will be a choice between something good and what’s best.  In following Jesus, we will need to learn to forego some activities (that are not necessarily bad) and rethink our relational priorities in order to focus on Him. We must be ready and willing to forsake all things and all people (if the Lord demands so) for the sake of faithfully following the Lord.

Section 6
Devotional Reading: Matthew 8:23-27
Marked verses: vs.15
Notes /Impressions:
(Const2014) The Sea of Galilee was, and still is, infamous for its sudden and violent storms (Gr. seismos). They occur because of geographical conditions. The water is 600 feet below sea level, and the land to the east is considerably higher. As warm air rises from the lake, it creates a vacuum that the air on the west rushes in to fill. This brings strong winds on the lake with little warning.
  • Jesus was obviously tired from the previous activities and had fallen asleep. The focus of the miracle here is Jesus’ authority over nature itself. It may have been truly a great storm since they (with probably experienced fishermen with them) became so fearful for their lives. Despite what these disciples just previously saw of Jesus’ power and authority, they panicked. His rebuke can also be understood as asking why they were panicking when He Himself was there with them. 
Lesson(s) Learned:
  • Never forget Who the Lord is, for there is no situation or problem He cannot handle. It is a matter of trusting Him, His capability, and His wisdom to handle things the right way at the right time. 
  • We will always be susceptible to struggles of faith. No matter how much we know about Jesus, a lot of times it doesn’t automatically translate to application when we need it the most. These disciples just witnessed some of the most incredible miracles but when they were faced with a situation, they forgot Who it was Who was with them.
  • Never forget who your God is and be amazed when He begins to handle things for you.

Section 7
Matthew 8:28-29
Marked verses: vs.29
Notes /Impressions:
  • These demons recognized Jesus and believed what He is capable of. They believed who He is and what awaits them, though they do not want to accept it, and are trying their best to thwart God’s plans.
  • The demons are well aware of their destiny. They acknowledged the fact that Jesus has all the power to do to them as He sees fit, and they will not be able to do anything against it. They even referred to their future destiny in hell in asking Jesus what was about to happen to them.   
Lesson(s) Learned:
  • Sometimes, demons believe everything about Christ and the future more than some Christians. Although they do not want to accept these and are trying to thwart God’s plans, they still know and believe who He is and what is about to happen to them. 
Some Christians have difficulty believing who Christ truly is in their lives, what His promises are to them and what blessings await them.
  • Many Christians are fearful of many things in life. But what have we to fear? Demons are so afraid of Jesus because they know His power. Knowing who He is and what He is for us should drive away our fears. If He is for us, who or what can be against us? 

Section 8
Matthew 8:30-34
Marked verses: vs.34
Notes /Impressions:
  • These herdsmen and the city people who came were obviously Gentiles. (Although some believe they are disobedient Jews, that’s why Christ did what He did.) In Mark 5:13, this large herd was numbering around 2,000. The loss of such a big herd was alarming to them, that’s why they “begged” (probably because they were afraid of His obvious power) Jesus to leave their region.
  • Although it may have been a big loss of food supply, nevertheless, their problem with these two men were dealt with. But for some reason they weren’t willing to trade this one problem with a material loss. They were willing to live with it. 
Lesson(s) Learned:
  • Such is the case with many today. People are willing to live with a problem (one which can actually be dealt with) as long as everything else around them is fine. They aren’t willing to give up temporal things to rid themselves of a serious problem and allow change.
  • Jesus has the authority over all things (nature & spirits especially here) and can bring about needed healing and change. But it usually requires sacrificial loss, if not surrender. The ones willing to accept change should first start with sacrificial measures.
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photo credit to:Ryk Neethling