Jesus Healing Ministry and the Relation Between Faith and Works (Mt 8, Eph 2)

Ill prepared for teaching a youth bible study last Wednesday, I decided to do what every sober minded youth pastor who had not prepared in advanced does: Pray and simply go through the Word. We had been doing a chapter by chapter study on the book of Matthew, and after discussing the wonderful teachings of Jesus as contained within the Sermon of the Mount (chapters 5-7), we began studying as Jesus moved into his healing and exorcism ministries.

We read through chapter 8, and I immediately noticed a pattern I found interesting. The chapter can be divided as follows:

I. Healing Ministry

  1. Healing of the Leper
  2. A Centurion’s faith, healing of his Servant
  3. Healing of Peter’s Mother-in-Law

II. Exorcism Ministry

  1. Exorcisms of the many at Capernaum
  2. Exorcisms of Gardarenes (two demon possessed men, and the herd of pigs).

III. Additional Miracles & Teachings

  1. Instruction Regarding Following Jesus
  2. Mastery over the Storm

What I would like to focus on are the healing accounts. One central element takes center stage regarding the first two accounts: the nature of faith. We quickly see a pattern. In the accounts of the Leper, the man’s faith is made evident in his comment, “Lord, if you are willing, You can make me clean,” (Mt 8:2). What follows his faith is a healing of his leprosy, and an odd comment by Jesus: “See that you don’t tell anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed, as a testimony to them,” (Mt 8:4). Without getting deeply into the essence of offering a gift, or the secretive ‘don’t tell anyone’ comment, there is value in seeing that (1) The Leper’s healing is a product of faith in Jesus, (2) Jesus calls him to respond with worship and service, namely seen in the call for him to go make a sacrifice.

A similar pattern is seen in the other two accounts. In the Centurion’s example, we see the strong statement used when this officer asks for healing on behalf of his servant: “I assure you: I have not found anyone in Israel with so great a faith!” (Mt 8:10). In addition, Jesus not only makes this significant statement, but reacts to the Centurion’s plea by being “amazed,” (Mt 8:10). What is it that makes his faith so amazing?

I would argue it to be the correlation between his faith and his humility (a starting point for Jewish wisdom found pounded throughout the Wisdom books and the Old Testament). Jesus himself calls us to be like ‘little children’ (as in humbled, not ignorant). Social classes were incredibly fixed, and to witness a Roman officer, of such power and authority, begging on behalf of his (most likely) Jewish servant is incredible. The humility to bypass such fixed social lines, and have faith in the wandering Jesus, is significant.

His faith and humility produce the following response regarding the request for healing: “‘Go, As you have believed, let it be done for you.’ And his servant was cured that very moment,” (Mt 8:13).

So far we see a pattern: Faith in Christ leads to healing. Although not every healing account in the New Testament is directly attached to faith in Jesus (by his Sovereignty, Jesus uses healing in other accounts to strengthen faith), the pattern arises none-the-less.

In the case of Peter’s mother-in-law, what we wish to focus in on is her response.”When Jesus went into Peter’s house, He saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. So He touched her had, and the fever left her. Then she got up and began to serve him,” (Mt 8:14-15). Emphasize the serve. Her response to her healing was to serve King Jesus, or in other words, to produce good works.

We can see an outline here of justification/healing by faith, and our response to this healing (good works). The latter follows for good reason. However these healing stories exist not to simply tell us about physical healing. Matthew ends these accounts with this important statement: “He…healed all who were sick, so that what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: He Himself took our weaknesses and carried our diseases,” (Mt 8:17, bold is OT quoted in Is 53:4).

These healing accounts now not only teach us about the correlation between healing and faith, and our response to being physically healed (seen in Peter’s mother-in-law and the worship of the Leper), but it points to the greater healing of Isaiah’s famous suffering servant passage. In this Isaiah passage, we are told of the great spiritual healing of the cross! These physical healings are merely a shadow of the spiritual healing to come.

We now have observed the following: (1) Jesus responds to the faith that these individuals have in Him by healing them, (2) These individuals respond to their healing with worship and good works/service, (3) These physical healing prophetically point to the Greater Spiritual Healing found in Isaiah’s Suffering Servant, namely Jesus and the Cross.

Would we then be surprised to find the same pattern of (1) and (2) in the apostles understanding of the Greater Healing? We now move to Ephesians to make this point. Within chapter 2, we find such a pattern. After articulating the sinfulness of man (we are dead in our trespasses and children under wrath, Eph 2:1-3), Paul provides us with a beautiful summary of the Gospel. It is undeniable that Grace and Faith play the central role in the person of Jesus Christ:

  • “By grace you are saved!” (2:5)
  • “display the immeasurable riches of His grace in [His] kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (2:7)
  • “For by grace you are saved through faith… it is God’s gift,” (2:8)

God provides the ultimate healing by the majesty and wonder of his grace. We receive this healing as a gift through faith, as the Matthew healing accounts received their physical healing “as they believed [faith]” (Mt 8:13). In addition, we see another correlation. After Paul places our sinfulness in contrast with the immeasurable grace given to us in Jesus, he concludes the segment with the following:

  • “For we are His creation–created in Christ Jesus for good works,” (Eph 2:10).

Notice now no good works precedes our receiving grace and salvation (emphasized by God’s usage of the word ‘gift’ to describe it, and the ‘not from works’ commentary). Rather, this verse falls after (1.) the statement of man’s complete depravity and (2.) the grace we receive through faith in Jesus. Our response to the contrast of (1.) and (2.) and our gratitude thereof leads us to (3.) good works.

Does this all sound familiar? We find it in these earlier mentioned healing accounts. In Mt 8 faith in Jesus produces physical healing (by His Grace), and in Eph 2 the Greater spiritual healing/salvation is produced through faith in Jesus (by His Grace). How does this segment of physical healing miracles concludes in Mt 8? With Peter’s mother-in-law responding with gratitude for her healing in the form of serving Jesus. How does Paul conclude his gospel presentation in Eph 2? By reminding us in whom we find identity in, and in calling us to good works as a response of the gratitude we have from the realities of (1.) and (2.).

How wonderful the hand of our Doctor. How full of grace the mercies of our King.

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2 thoughts on “Jesus Healing Ministry and the Relation Between Faith and Works (Mt 8, Eph 2)

  1. Dear Brother Leonardo
    Greetings in the Lord’s mighty name,
    How are you, your family, ministry & church…???
    Im an ordained Pastor serving of God here in Pakistan for last thirteen years.
    I have got two years diploma in theology from ” Philadelphia Pentecostal Bible College ” Karachi Pakistan ……….I also have a bachelor (B-TH) and a master (M-TH) degree in theology which I got from “Triune Biblical University” Kelso Washington USA .
    I have established my own gospel ministry and have with me some more Pastors & Evangelists who are serving of God with me in different areas of Pakistan specially in backward areas and villages.
    Almighty God has blessed me with the gifts of healing & deliverance. Holy spirit moves and shows his glory in my services. Many people healed from their diseases and sicknesses and set free from the bondages of Satan. Demon possessed get released when I pray for them. I have been invited as a guest speaker in crusades, conferences and seminars. I have been traveled extensively throughout Pakistan to sharing the word of God.
    Plz visit my website http://wmcintl.multiply.com and http://www.facebook.com/?sk=media#!/home.php?sk=myuploads to know more about me & my ministry.
    I have links and serving of God with some international gospel ministries of USA , you can ask and inquire about me by them.
    Plz visit http://www.globalnetworkprayer.com/MINISTRYLINKS.html and http://therain.us/2.html to know more about me and my ministry.
    I want to develop my strong spiritual relations with you for the glory of almighty God, because i have intense need of prayers and fellowship of dedicated servants of almighty God like you to win & save the souls for our savior Lord Jesus Christ.
    I also want to let you know that i had invited Eva.Ricky Walt here in Pakistan on 7th May 2010 for preaching.
    So he came to me here in Pakistan from South Africa with his friend Pastor Andrias Kemp on 7th May and preached in my city “ Faisalabad ” from 7th to 13th May 2010 in open air crusades.
    Almighty God used Eva.Ricky Walt for his glory and hundred of people have been healed from different kind of sicknesses and diseases e.g joint , back and muscle pain , hepatitis C, asthma and tuberculosis, stomach and heart diseases etc.
    Besides of these healings many blind people received eye sights, lams walked, deaf and dumb spoke and heard and paralyzed got up and walked immediately after praying.
    Thousands of new people have been saved including Muslims who have accepted Lord Jesus Christ as their personal savior in these six days open air crusades.
    You can see the pictures and video clips of all these healings and miracles at Eva.Ricky’s website at http://www.africaministriesinternational.org/Enewsletter052010.html and http://www.flickr.com/photos/ev_rvdwalt_ami/ .
    You also can read the newsletter of Eva.Ricky’s visit and outreach of Pakistan there.
    So i invite you too………Please come to me here in Pakistan for preaching if almighty God leads you so that the millions of the lost souls may be saved ….. Here in Pakistan there is intense need of preaching because it is a Muslim (Gentiles) country with the population of 180 million.
    Im also inviting you because it has been written in the Holy Bible “As cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country” Proverbs 25:25.
    Please remember me, my family, ministry & all the ministers who are serving of God with me in your personal and congregational prayers without ceasing.
    Look fwd hear from you.
    May God Bless You.
    In Christ Love.
    Pastor Ashir Israel ( Founder & President The World Mission of Christ Ministries International Pakistan )
    Mailing address “House.No/P-80 St.No/3 P.O. G-M-Abad Faisalabad Pakistan ”
    Phone: +92-41-2003402 Cell: +92-344-2488302

  2. Dear Beloved

    Brethren,Much greetings through the exalted name of our Loving savior Jesus Christ from Kenya .

    I am very much pleased to tell you that your teachings on your website are a great blessing to me, my family and the young independent christian fellowship that i founded when i got the call of the lord to do so.

    So, i, my wife , children and some few brethren from the community we are serving the lord under this christian fellowship.

    The fellowship is of 32 members.

    I also take care of ten orphans whose parents died.

    In this i am requesting you to send us more teachings that will enable us, as a small church to grow spiritually.

    As well it is my kind request that you also remember these needy orphans under my care

    in your daily prayers that God can open them ways for their needs both in physical and spiritual growth.

    Also i would be happy if you will accept us to be part of your fellowship.

    Pass our sincere regards and greetings to all Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
    pastor John

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