Matthew 8

Matthew 8:10

Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.

Such great faith. The centurion had a revelation of Jesus that was greater than most. “Just say the word.”

It’s a mistake to conclude that the size of our faith matters or that we need more faith before we can access the grace of God. Even a small mustard-seed amount of faith is enough to move mountains (Matt. 17:20). We don’t need more faith as much as we need a deeper revelation of God’s love for us. It is his goodness that inspires us to trust him.

See entry for Faith.

Matthew 8:11

“I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven;

(a) Many will come from east and west. This is one of the first hints Jesus gave that his kingdom was open to all. “The gospel must first be preached to all the nations” (Mark 13:10). The gospel will be preached beyond Judea to the Gentiles. For Jewish disciples raised under racist religion, this was a new and scandalous idea. But they obeyed and within a generation the gospel was ‘bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world’ (Col. 1:6).

(b) The table is the Lord’s banqueting table, as foretold by the prophets (Ps. 36:8, Is. 25:6) and illustrated by Jesus (Matt. 22:2, Luke 14:16)

(c) The kingdom of heaven refers to the reign of God through his Son Jesus Christ. In the present age, the kingdom of heaven on earth is synonymous the Body of Christ or the church. See entry for Matt. 3:2).

Matthew 8:12

but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

(a) The sons of the kingdom in this context are the Jews. God blessed the patriarchs giving them privileged access to his kingdom. But the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would find their place taken by the Gentiles (see previous verse).

The sons of the kingdom in this passage should not be confused with the sons of the kingdom in Matt. 13:38. Old covenant labels are redefined in the new. Just as the definition of Israel changed to include those who share the faith of Abraham sons by faith (see Rom. 4:16, 9:6), the true sons of the kingdom are those who embrace the true King.

(b) Cast out. Those who reject Jesus have no place in his kingdom. They are thrown out or expelled by their unbelief (Luke 13:28).

(c) The outer darkness. Outside the kingdom (Luke 13:28).

The “outer darkness” is a phrase that appears only three times in scripture, and each time it is associated with weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 8:12, 22:13, 25:30). The outer darkness is not hell or the lake of fire. It is the natural habitat of those who prefer darkness to the light of the gospel (John 3:19). Just as the elder brother refused to enter his father’s celebration, the self-righteous would rather stay out in the cold and dark than enter any place where sinners are welcomed.

(d) Weeping and gnashing of teeth. Rage and anguish are the fruit of religion.

Jesus is describing how the religious Jews (the erstwhile sons of the kingdom) will react when they find themselves outside the kingdom in the cold and dark. They will be very upset and angry. They will react to the church the same way they reacted to Jesus – with hatred and violence.

When the religious Jews witnessed what was happening in the New Testament church, some wept while others gnashed their teeth and became angry (e.g., Acts 7:54). To gnash your teeth is to mock or express rage (Job 16:9, Ps. 35:16, Lam. 2:16). The original word for gnashing means snarling or growling. Those who heard Stephen speaking of heavenly things that they could not see, snarled like dogs. Then they lunged at him and killed him (Acts 7:57–58).

Matthew 8:17

This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “HE HIMSELF TOOK OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED AWAY OUR DISEASES.”

(a) Our infirmities are our wounds and weaknesses. Jesus carried away our sicknesses, but he took upon himself our weaknesses. Jesus knew what it meant to be tempted and persecuted and to feel weary and come to the end of his rope.

(b) Our diseases include our sicknesses.

Matthew 8:20

Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

The Son of Man. Even though he was the Son of God, Jesus typically referred to himself as the Son of Man in a nod to Daniel’s prophecy (Dan. 7:13–14, Matt. 24:30). Few others referred to Jesus this way, but Stephen was one who did (Acts 7:56).

Matthew 8:22

But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.”

The dead. Stop making excuses and follow me.

Burying one’s father was a solemn obligation for a Jewish man. Perhaps no other custom was more important which makes Jesus’ statement as shocking as the one he makes about hating his own father and mother (Luke 14:26). Jesus is not telling us to hate people and skip funerals. He’s saying “Seek his kingdom first” (Matt. 6:33). It’s about prioritizing the things of God over the customs of man. To those who have not yet decided to follow him, Jesus says, “I’m an all-or-nothing proposition.” See entry for Luke 9:62.

Matthew 8:25

And they came to Him and woke Him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!”

Save. The original word (sozo) is usually translated as save from our sins (e.g., Matt. 1:21), or save us from death (e.g., Matt. 8:25), but it can also imply healing. When Jesus healed the sick, he sozo ed them; he healed them (Mark 5:23), delivered them (Luke 8:36) and made them whole (Matt. 9:21). See entry for Salvation.

Matthew 8:26

He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm.

(a) Why are you afraid? Fear is a faith-killer. This is why we need to feed our faith and starve our fears. We do this by reminding ourselves of what God had said. If the disciples had remembered that Jesus said they were going to the other side (Mark 4:35), they would not have feared drowning.

(b) You men of little faith. Great fear indicates little or no faith. Jesus is not saying the disciples need big faith to survive storms. He’s saying they had no faith (Mark 4:40). “Where is your faith?” (Luke 8:25). He’s encouraging them to trust in his word and fear not.

(c) Rebuked. Jesus rebuked the wind and the word used (epitimao) is the same Greek word that is used when Jesus rebuked the devil (Matt. 17:18) and various demons (e.g., Mark 1:25). This has led some to conclude that the storm was demonic in nature. However, the Bible never says this and we risk glorifying the devil by attributing to him powers he may not have.

In the poetry of the prophets, it is the Lord who is ultimately credited with the wonders of nature (e.g., Jer. 10:13, 51:16). Just as it is wrong to blame the devil, it is equally misguided to think that all the storms that come our way were sent by God to test us. The story rather illustrates the power we have in Christ to still the storms of life.

See entry for Faith.

Matthew 8:29

And they cried out, saying, “What business do we have with each other, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”

(a) The Son of God. The demons recognized that Jesus was the Son of God (Mark 3:11, Luke 4:41). Others who called Jesus the Son of God include John the Baptist (John 1:34), Nathanael (John 1:49), Martha (John 11:27), the centurion at the cross (Matt. 27:54, Mark 15:39), and the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:35).

(b) Torment us. Demons are terrified of God and his Son (Jas. 2:19).

(c) Before the time. Before Judgment Day (Jude 1:6). Unlike humans who have a hopeful future in the Lord, the angels who fell and the demonic servants of Satan have nothing to look forward to (2 Pet. 2:4, Rev. 20:10).

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