I. The Promised Servant who Heals All Our Diseases
Matthew continues to provide examples of Jesus’ power and authority to heal all kinds of diseases. When Jesus enters Peter’s home, he sees Peter’s mother-in-law in bed with a fever, and he heals her with a touch. Her healing was immediate and complete, which is why Matthew makes clear that she was strong enough right away to begin waiting on Jesus. A little later in the evening, many were brought to Jesus who were demon-possessed and sick. With a word, Jesus heals all who were brought to him.
The reason Jesus was performing these healing miracles was “to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet.” Jesus, by taking away infirmities and carrying away diseases, was showing that He was the Servant promised in Isaiah 53. In fact, Matthew is not merely calling our attention back to verse 4 of Isaiah 53, but he is directing our attention back to the surrounding context of chapter 53 as well. Isaiah 53 is primarily about Christ taking upon Himself the guilt of His people in order to bear their punishment on their behalf. It is only by dealing with sin, paying the price for the guilt of our sin, that Christ could ever take away our diseases in any ultimate sense.
- The reason those who belong to Christ have the certain hope of an eternity without suffering is because Christ has dealt with the root problem and cause of all suffering, which is sin. That is not to say that anytime someone is sick or suffering, it’s because of a particular sin in their life. Rather, because we live in a world that has been cast under the painful consequences of sin, we will continue to experience sickness and disease in this life. But Christ, having dealt with the root problem, will one day establish the New Heavens and New Earth where all the effects of sin can never again be felt.
II. The Everlasting King who Calls us Complete Obedience
Each of the men who come to Jesus seems to have a deficient understanding of what it means to follow Him. The first man, a scribe, appears to come too hastily. In response, Jesus refers to himself as the “Son of Man.” This is referring back to Daniel 7:13-14 where read of the Son of Man to whom belongs an everlasting dominion, glory, a kingdom which can never be destroyed. He’s the One that all people and nations will serve, and yet on the earth (i.e. His own creation), He had less of a home than the foxes and the birds. To follow Jesus “wherever” He goes is to embrace this same relationship to the world, recognizing that we are strangers on the earth and that following Jesus will often cost us comforts and approval in this life.
The second man comes to Jesus too hesitantly, unprepared to make obedience to Christ the sole priority in his life. He asks to remain behind in order to first bury his father, which was a common idiom saying that he wanted to wait, perhaps for several more years, until his father passed away. There were other things he wanted to take care of until he committed to following Jesus. Jesus tells him to “allow the dead to bury their own dead,” meaning allow those who are spiritually dead (i.e., concerned only for the things of this world) to concern themselves with the things of this world. Christ was calling this man to immediate discipleship.
- Those who follow Jesus must make obedience to Him, obedience to all that He has commanded, the single priority in their life. This includes all the commands of Christ, from the seemingly greatest to the seemingly smallest. Every area of our life (e.g., family, neighborhood, job, church, finances, ministry, etc.) belongs to Him and should be carried out in obedience to Him. He saves us freely by His grace based on the great debt He paid for our sins, and now He calls us to complete and uncompromising submission to Him as the everlasting King. He is the pearl of great price, infinitely greater than anything we leave behind in service to Him and He is worth whatever it may cost to follow Him.