BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 9, Day 5: Matthew 8:23-34

Summary of passage:  Fleeing the crowds, Jesus and his disciples get in a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee.  A storm arose and the disciples, scared, awoke Jesus from a much needed rest afraid they would drown.  Jesus rebuked them for lack of faith and calmed the storm.  The disciples were amazed at Jesus’ power.

When Jesus arrived at the other side of the lake in Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men approached him.  They taunted Jesus and asked him to drive the demons into the pigs, which Jesus did.  The whole herd of pigs then drowned themselves in the lake.  The shepherds ran to tell the town and the whole town demanded Jesus leave, scared of what they just saw.

Questions:

12a)  Jesus understood the disciples genuine fear that they would die and how powerful of an emotion fear is so he calmed the storm not for himself but for them.

b)  Omnipotent (power over the wind and the seas).  Compassion in the midst of unbelief (even though the disciples didn’t deserve to have their fear calmed because they didn’t belief in who he was, Jesus did it anyways).  Love (Jesus loved his disciples enough to rebuke them and call them out for their lack of faith.)

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  If the disciples had really, truly understood exactly whom Jesus was they would not have been afraid.  Imagine:  you are in a boat with God/Jesus.  Would He allow anything to happen to you?  No. Yet the disciples literally thought they were going to die.  That Jesus would not protect them.  That they were not safe in his presence.  How sad!

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  There have been many, mainly with regards to money.  My husband has lost his job multiple times and we have gone through a bankruptcy where we lost our home but never once were we homeless or without food, clothing, or shelter.  God provides and He continues to this day.  I no longer fear job losses.  They make me upset.  But my fear is gone for I know He has my back.

13a)  “They were so violent that no one could pass that way.”  “This man lived in the tombs and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain.”  “He tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet.  No one was strong enough to subdue him.”  “He would cry out and cut himself with stones.”

b)  Jesus came to destroy the devil’s power over death and free us from our fear of death.  The demon-possessed men were as good as dead, leading a life not worth living, being chained up because they were crazy.  One cannot survive with demons inside of them as exhibited by the pigs.  The pigs, as lower animals, committed suicide because they could not handle the devil inside of them.

Jesus freed the men and gave them a live worth living again as he does for each of us who accept him.

c)  Personal Question.   My answer:  It’s interesting to me how Jesus chooses some to be disciples or witnesses and how he chooses others not to be.  Jesus healed the man with leprosy in Matthew 8:1-4 and told him not to tell anyone and here in Mark 18-20, Jesus tells the man to go and give testimony on what he has done.  I believe he has done this because the former needed to be cleansed to be accepted back into society and the demon man would have been accepted automatically.

Furthermore, Jesus came to free us from the power of the devil over our lives.  Driving out demons speaks to this point and is a more important testimony to who Jesus is.  Jesus healed the physical sick (the leper); but he is more interested in healing the people spiritually (the demon-possessed man).

d)  They pleaded with him to leave their region.  This shows they are scared of Jesus’ power.  They are angry at him because 2000 pigs as Mark tells us was worth a lot of money–probably most people’s entire income for the year.  They are indifferent to how Jesus saved the two men.  They could care less that they were saved.  They acted out of fear.

e)  They don’t like Jesus when he affects their money for the good of others.  When people are scared or they don’t understand something, they tend to run away or push back.  They close up and refuse to learn what is driving that fear so they ignore the Message.  People refuse to believe being saved is so easy so they reject Jesus.

Fear and unbelief go together.  What people fear, they don’t believe is true.  People fear what Jesus can do in their lives so they reject Jesus and choose what Satan is doing in their lives instead.

Conclusions:  I liked this lesson.  Full of action-packed stories and interesting characters.  Jesus calming a storm and freaky men running around, crazy, while a pack of pigs run off a cliff.  Cool!

Note how God always does what is best for us.  The man wanted to go with Jesus and Jesus said no.  Why?  Because this man would now serve God greater as he proclaimed his miracle to others.  Also, the man probably still harbored fears of the devil and Jesus wanted him to know he would be okay without Jesus nearby.

Maps:  This is an awesome site full of maps of where Jesus walked and the distances between places mentioned.  You can click on the red dots on the map which lead you to more detailed information with more maps and pictures of the ruins today.  You could spend hours on this site!

http://www.biblewalks.com/info/jesusfootsteps.html

This site has maps as well as the Bible verses that trace Jesus’ ministry:

http://www.ccel.org/bible/phillips/CN160-TRAVELS.htm

End Notes:  Some scholars believe the storm was sent by the devil in an attempt to drown the Son of God and his disciples because of the use of the word “rebuke”.

The demon-possessed men were exceedingly unclean since they lived among the dead.

The demon’s words to Jesus demonstrate they understood they were going to face torture for eternity and they asked to be left alone to inflict their damage on earth for as long as possible.

Pigs are unclean to Jews so these must have been owned by a Gentile.  Note how the demons needed permission to enter the pigs.  They just couldn’t do it themselves.

The pigs hurling themselves over the cliff shows the real reason for existence of demons:  to kill.  However, the demons may have achieved one end goal:  they turned the people away from Jesus through killing the pigs.  We must be wary always for the destructive tendencies of the devil.

Demons use human bodies as a weapon against God.  Demon-possession can be a reality today but note they have to be invited in; demons just can’t take control over you.

Note this is the only thing Jesus does in Gadarenes.  In Matthew 9, we learn Jesus returns to his own town.  Jesus came over just to save this one man.  This shows us the depth and importance we all hold in God’s eyes.  We matter just like this seemingly insignificant demon-possessed man did to God.  We all have hope.  This man’s life was admittedly over if Jesus hadn’t have banished the demons.  Now, the man can live again.  Just like we all can.

Mark mentions the Decapolis.  Deka is ten in Greek which was adopted into Latin to be dec and polis is Greek for cities so this literally means Ten Cities.  These were mainly on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee, which were mainly Gentile.  See link HERE for a great history lesson and map on the ten cities which are the ones in black.

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BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 9, Day 4: Matthew 8:18-22

Summary of passage:  The crowds had grown so much that Jesus sought solitude by crossing the lake.  A teacher told Jesus he would follow him wherever he went and Jesus said his life is one of no home.  Another desired to bury his father first but Jesus said to follow him for he is the living one.

Questions:

10a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The teacher’s heart was not committed to him enough to follow him wherever he went.

b)  Jesus has come to save the living.  When his father dies, he will be buried.  Now is the time to proclaim the kingdom of heaven.  Basically, following him (Jesus) comes first.  Caring for and burying his father–second.

c)  Luke tells us that emphasis Jesus is placing on the here and now.  Time is of the essence in converting people and doing his work.  The time is now to proclaim the kingdom of God.  Excuses he will not accept.  Jesus first or forget it.

11a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The time is now.  We must be willing to be inconvenienced for God and proclaim His kingdom.  Excuses are unacceptable to God.  Following Jesus must come first.  Family and everything else second.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  This is a hard one because I hate my routine thrown off.  But I see this blog as my ministry and I get up early every day and type these answers to you all.  I put off cleaning the house, writing my novel, reading books for me, etc to do this.  I try to put others first and shine God’s light into this world.  Hopefully, it’s worth it in the end.

God must come first.  Our lives must be God-centered.  He is our number one priority.  We must be completely and totally His.  Otherwise, we are wasting our time here on earth.  I try to follow His calling no matter what.  It is hard but with His help I will succeed.

Conclusions:  Nice, succinct lesson.  God first.  Everything else second.  Period.

End Notes:  Perhaps those who asked to follow Jesus were in it for themselves.  Jesus was popular and perhaps they thought they’d benefit from this.  Just like groupies today.

“Let me go and bury my father” is probably an expression or figure of speech used that meant “Let me wait until my father is dead.”  The disciple did not literally mean bury his dead father.

We must remember in ancient culture and in some cultures today caring for elderly parents was a duty.  You cared for your parents until they died.  This was a priority.  In the US, elderly tend to be stuck in a home more and cared for others other than their direct descendants.

Jesus makes it abundantly clear:  following him comes first–above family obligations.

Fun Fact:  The phrase “Son of Man” is used 81 times in the gospels, each either by Jesus himself referring to himself or someone quoting Jesus as saying this.  It is used twice in the Old Testament:  Daniel 7:13-14 and Psalm 8:4

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 9, Day 3: Matthew 8:5-17

Summary of passage:  In Capernaum, a centurion came to Jesus and asked him to heal his servant.  Jesus said he would do so.  The centurion protested, saying he does not deserve to have Jesus under his roof and asked Jesus to just say the word from afar.

Jesus was astonished at the man’s faithfulness in his ability to heal from afar and Jesus told him to go because it would be done as he believed it would.

Jesus said all will be in heaven with no barriers in place and warned that the Jews could still go to hell for unbelief in Him.

Jesus entered Peter’s house and healed his sick mother-in-law.  Then he healed many who were demon-possessed and all the sick, which fulfilled Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 53:4.

Questions:

6a)  He is a man of faith in Jesus, believing Jesus can heal from afar.  He is compassionate and caring for he traveled a long ways to ask for Jesus to heal his servant.  Most servants in the day were barely considered human and were not cared for in the least.  He is a man of authority and leadership as he is used to giving orders and being obeyed.  He is humble as he recognized he is a servant (a man under authority) as well.

b)  “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.  But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.  For I myself am a man under authority.”

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I get up every day and try to follow His will.  I care for my kids, guide and protect them, and do the same for others.

7a)  The Gentiles

b)  The kingdom of heaven

c)  Many hear the word of God but few accept Him and His invitation.

8a)  He heals when he sees a need.  Jesus wasn’t asked to heal her.  He just did.  He can’t stand to see others suffering.  He has compassion on all.  Upon healing, she began to serve as we all should from the moment our heart becomes His.

b)  She got up and began to wait on him.

9a)  Isaiah 53:4

b)  That Jesus is the one whom Isaiah spoke of as the suffering servant.  That he will take up our infirmities and carry our diseases/sorrows.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus is Lord, compassionate, and omnipotent.  He does not discriminate in his healing.  He heals all those who need it and who have faith in him or those who ask who have faith in him.  We see a leper, a servant, and a woman healed.  These were people most disregarded in society as unimportant and disposable. Yet Jesus healed them.  All are important to him.

This encourages me because I know I am important to him as well as are my needs no matter how big or small.  Jesus will provide if I have faith.

Conclusions:  Here we see three specific miracles Jesus performed among ten that are forthcoming in the next few chapters.  Matthew writes these here to further establish Jesus’ authority as the son of God.

I often wonder what miracles Jesus performed that are not recorded.  For I strive to know Him better and the more information I have, the better!

Admittedly, I had no idea about question 7.  I had to look that up in a commentary.

End Notes:  Capernaum is Jesus’ home (Matthew 4:13).  Hence, Jesus is returning home for a bit.  Hence, we see Peter’s mother-in-law as this is Peter’s home as well.

We know the Centurion was a Gentile for he was a Roman soldier who worshipped pagan gods. Note every time we meet a centurion in the Bible, he is a good man.  Under Roman law, the master could have killed his slave especially if he were sick and unable to perform his duties.  This was a special master indeed.

Because Jesus was Jewish, the centurion knew his home would be considered unworthy to enter by a Jew.  Hence, the centurion asked Jesus not to break this custom (it’s not against Jewish law, merely custom) and speak a word of authority to make it so.

Note Jesus’ use of the term Israel.  There was no state called Israel at this time but Jesus still considered them as such.

It is here that Jesus announces for the first time that God’s promises extend to Gentiles as well and not just the Jewish people.  Many will come from the east and the west and take their places in heaven.  Being Jewish does not guarantee entrance.

God heals as He pleases, not necessarily as we may want.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 9, Day 2: Matthew 8:1-4 & Mark 1:40-45

Summary of passages:  Matthew 8:1-4:  Descending from the Mount, a man with leprosy approached Jesus and asked to be made clean.  Jesus agreed and cured the man of leprosy.  Jesus told the man to not tell anyone that it was he who cured him but instead to go and show the priests and offer the gift to them that Moses commanded.

Mark 1:40-45:  Mark’s account is the same as Matthew’s except we discover the reason Jesus wanted to keep it secret:  so he could continue his ministry.  Instead, despite Jesus’ warning, the man went out and began to spread the news that Jesus healed him, thus inhibiting Jesus from entering towns openly.  Still, he preached as the people instead came to him.

Questions:

3)  The man did not demand that Jesus heal him like most toddlers do who don’t know any better.  He approached Jesus with a reverent attitude and knelt before him.  He asked politely.  Presumably, the man had a ready heart for Jesus did not heal those whose hearts were not right.  He believed Jesus could do it.  He just didn’t know if Jesus would do it.  He never doubted.

Some translations say the man worshipped Jesus.  The man left it up to the will of God.  He called Jesus “Lord”.  He acknowledged who Jesus was.

The same for those seeking spiritual healing today:  have a ready heart and a humble, penitent attitude before God.  Worship God.  Ask for God’s will to be done.  Believe 100% that God can do it.

4a)  Jesus’ actions:  Jesus touched the man, healed him, and bade him not tell anyone and instead offer sacrifices for the miracle to God.  He wanted the credit to go the priests not him.

b)  Jesus’ emotions:  Jesus was filled with compassion upon seeing the man (enough to heal him) and he gave a strong warning according to Mark to not spread the news of the healing.  I would imagine Jesus was sad at being disobeyed because it did inhibit his work and thus the use of the word “lonely” in verse 45.

c)  Jesus’ words:  Jesus says he is willing to heal the man.  He speaks the words and the man is healed.  He tells the man to offer sacrifices as Moses has commanded and to give the credit to the priests.  Note how Jesus does this with no regard to himself, no expectation of self-glory or exaltation.  He did not heal the man for himself.  He healed the man because it was the right thing to do.

d)  Jesus’ care for the leper:  Mark tells us Jesus was filled with compassion.  He cared for the leper enough to heal him even though Jesus knew it would bring hardship upon him as Mark tells us that the man deliberately ignored Jesus’ instructions and created chaos wherever they went.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Two things:  notice how Jesus said, “I am willing.”  This is a great comfort to me as I know that God is willing to do anything for me that I ask.  Also, note how Jesus heals the man despite he knows it will bring hardship upon himself.  God will do things for us even though He knows we may turn from Him, disobey Him, not acknowledge Him, or not show gratitude for what He has done.  It’s an amazing picture of God’s love for us.  It makes me realize (as much as I am able as a mere human) the depth of God’s love for little o’ me!

Conclusions:  I liked this lesson.  Note how only 9 verses in the bible can carry an enormous message for us.  Here, we see Jesus’ immense compassion for people and his willingness to do things not for his glory but for others.  He heals despite the man’s disobedience.  Powerful message that many of us need to hear:  God loves us and cares for us despite our sins, misgivings, fallings short, disobedience, denial, and selfishness.

Who else do you know that loves you as deeply?

End Notes:  To understand the depth and magnitude of what Jesus did here, we must understand leprosy itself.  Leprosy was (and still is) a horrible disease where your muscles slowly rot over time.  It progresses to where the limbs slowly rot and fall off as all circulation is cut off from that part of the body.

Leprosy has been around since the beginning of time.  It is reported by all the major civilizations including Ancient Egypt, Persia, China, and India.  As most diseases of ancient times, it was not understood.  Hence, people were afraid of catching it.  As such, those who had leprosy were outcasts, considered unclean and punished by God for their sins.

Jewish law demanded you stay 6 feet away from a leper.  During the Middle Ages, priests would actually say the last rites over a leper as they were as good as dead.  Lepers were treated horribly and endured a very horrible life.

Lepers had to live alone (Leviticus 13:46).  They had to shout “Unclean! Unclean!” as a warning to others.  If you are interested in a visual, I would suggest watch the movie “Ben Hur”.  It has an accurate depiction of how lepers were treated in Jesus’ time.

Now, we know catching leprosy is actually not all that easy.  It’s a bacteria that is spread only through close contact with nose and mouth droppings.

According to the World Health Organization, only about 180,000 people worldwide have the disease, only about 200 live in the United States.  It is a curable disease, treated with antibiotics.  Thus, it is hard for us to understand this disease and the people afflicted with it.

For Jesus to touch the man, he was breaking Jewish law.  For him to come near the man, he was breaking Jewish law.  But upon the touch, the man was healed.  Thus, the law was not broken!

Did Jesus have to touch the man to heal him?  No.  He touched the man to make a point.  That lepers can be touched.  Note as we go along though the chronicles of Jesus’ healing ministry how he heals.  He uses different methods depending on what he wants to get across.  Here, he needed to show it was okay to touch a leper.  And he touched the leper for the man himself.  The man probably hadn’t been touched in years.  He needed that human affection.

Imagine not touching a baby.  We all need human contact to be functional in this society.

God is always willing and able to heal.  It’s God’s will if He does or not.

Why did Jesus not want his healing announced?  Jesus came to save us from our sins.  He didn’t want his miracles to trump his overarching message.  He didn’t want to be seen as a physical healer; he wanted to be seen as the spiritual healer of men’s hearts.

Jesus told the man to report to the priests so he could follow the cleansing acts as required by the Law (Leviticus 14).  This would allow the man to re-enter Jewish society and begin to live his life once more.

Fun Facts:  This is the first time in the gospels Jesus is called “Lord.”

This is the first case of healing described in the gospels.