III. MINISTRY AND MISSION IN GALILEE#This narrative section of the second book of the gospel is composed of nine miracle stories, most of which are found in Mark, although Matthew does not follow the Marcan order and abbreviates the stories radically. The stories are arranged in three groups of three, each group followed by a section composed principally of sayings of Jesus about discipleship. Mt 9:35 is an almost verbatim repetition of Mt 4:23. Each speaks of Jesus’ teaching, preaching, and healing. The teaching and preaching form the content of Mt 5–7; the healing, that of Mt 8–9. Some scholars speak of a portrayal of Jesus as “Messiah of the Word” in Mt 5–7 and “Messiah of the Deed” in Mt 8–9. That is accurate so far as it goes, but there is also a strong emphasis on discipleship in Mt 8–9; these chapters have not only christological but ecclesiological import.
The Cleansing of a Leper.
1#a. [8:1–4] Mk 1:40–44; Lk 5:12–14. When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. 2And then a leper#A leper: see note on Mk 1:40. approached, did him homage, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” 3He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I will do it. Be made clean.” His leprosy was cleansed immediately. 4#Cf. Lv 14:2–9. That will be proof for them: the Greek can also mean “that will be proof against them.” It is not clear whether them refers to the priests or the people. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed;#b. [8:4] Lv 14:2–32; Lk 17:14. that will be proof for them.”
The Healing of a Centurion’s Servant.
#This story comes from Q (see Lk 7:1–10) and is also reflected in Jn 4:46–54. The similarity between the Q story and the Johannine is due to a common oral tradition, not to a common literary source. As in the later story of the daughter of the Canaanite woman (Mt 15:21–28) Jesus here breaks with his usual procedure of ministering only to Israelites and anticipates the mission to the Gentiles. 5#c. [8:5–13] Lk 7:1–10; Jn 4:46–53. When he entered Capernaum,#A centurion: a military officer commanding a hundred men. He was probably in the service of Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee; see note on Mt 14:1. a centurion approached him and appealed to him, 6saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” 7He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” 8The centurion said in reply,#Acquainted by his position with the force of a command, the centurion expresses faith in the power of Jesus’ mere word. “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. 9For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel#In no one in Israel: there is good textual attestation (e.g., Codex Sinaiticus) for a reading identical with that of Lk 7:9, “not even in Israel.” But that seems to be due to a harmonization of Matthew with Luke. have I found such faith. 11#d. [8:11–12] 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Lk 13:28–29. I say to you,#Matthew inserts into the story a Q saying (see Lk 13:28–29) about the entrance of Gentiles into the kingdom and the exclusion of those Israelites who, though descended from the patriarchs and members of the chosen nation (the children of the kingdom), refused to believe in Jesus. There will be wailing and grinding of teeth: the first occurrence of a phrase used frequently in this gospel to describe final condemnation (Mt 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30). It is found elsewhere in the New Testament only in Lk 13:28. many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven, 12but the children of the kingdom will be driven out into the outer darkness, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” 13And Jesus said to the centurion, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And at that very hour [his] servant was healed.
The Cure of Peter’s Mother-in-Law.
#Cf. Mk 1:29–31. Unlike Mark, Matthew has no implied request by others for the woman’s cure. Jesus acts on his own initiative, and the cured woman rises and waits not on “them” (Mk 1:31) but on him. 14#e. [8:14–16] Mk 1:29–34; Lk 4:38–41. Jesus entered the house of Peter, and saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. 15He touched her hand, the fever left her, and she rose and waited on him.#f. [8:15] 9:25.
16When it was evening, they brought him many who were possessed by demons, and he drove out the spirits by a word#By a word: a Matthean addition to Mk 1:34; cf. 8:8. and cured all the sick, 17to fulfill what had been said by Isaiah the prophet:#This fulfillment citation from Is 53:4 follows the MT, not the LXX. The prophet speaks of the Servant of the Lord who suffers vicariously for the sins (“infirmities”) of others; Matthew takes the infirmities as physical afflictions. #g. [8:17] Is 53:4.
“He took away our infirmities
and bore our diseases.”
The Would-be Followers of Jesus.
#This passage between the first and second series of miracles about following Jesus is taken from Q (see Lk 9:57–62). The third of the three sayings found in the source is absent from Matthew. 18#h. [8:18] Mk 4:35. When Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side.#The other side: i.e., of the Sea of Galilee. 19#i. [8:19–22] Lk 9:57–60. A scribe approached and said to him, “Teacher,#Teacher: for Matthew, this designation of Jesus is true, for he has Jesus using it of himself (Mt 10:24, 25; 23:8; 26:18), yet when it is used of him by others they are either his opponents (Mt 9:11; 12:38; 17:24; 22:16, 24, 36) or, as here and in Mt 19:16, well-disposed persons who cannot see more deeply. Thus it reveals an inadequate recognition of who Jesus is. I will follow you wherever you go.” 20Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man#Son of Man: see note on Mk 8:31. This is the first occurrence in Matthew of a term that appears in the New Testament only in sayings of Jesus, except for Acts 7:56 and possibly Mt 9:6 (Mk 2:10; Lk 5:24). In Matthew it refers to Jesus in his ministry (seven times, as here), in his passion and resurrection (nine times, e.g., Mt 17:22), and in his glorious coming at the end of the age (thirteen times, e.g., Mt 24:30). has nowhere to rest his head.” 21Another of [his] disciples said to him, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” 22#Let the dead bury their dead: the demand of Jesus overrides what both the Jewish and the Hellenistic world regarded as a filial obligation of the highest importance. See note on Lk 9:60. But Jesus answered him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.”
The Calming of the Storm at Sea.
23#His disciples followed him: the first miracle in the second group (Mt 8:23–9:8) is introduced by a verse that links it with the preceding sayings by the catchword “follow.” In Mark the initiative in entering the boat is taken by the disciples (Mk 4:35–41); here, Jesus enters first and the disciples follow. #j. [8:23–27] Mk 4:35–40; Lk 8:22–25. He got into a boat and his disciples followed him. 24Suddenly a violent storm#Storm: literally, “earthquake,” a word commonly used in apocalyptic literature for the shaking of the old world when God brings in his kingdom. All the synoptics use it in depicting the events preceding the parousia of the Son of Man (Mt 24:7; Mk 13:8; Lk 21:11). Matthew has introduced it here and in his account of the death and resurrection of Jesus (Mt 27:51–54; 28:2). came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. 25#k. [8:25–26] Ps 107:28–29. They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us!#The reverent plea of the disciples contrasts sharply with their reproach of Jesus in Mk 4:38. We are perishing!” 26He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?”#You of little faith: see note on Mt 6:30. Great calm: Jesus’ calming the sea may be meant to recall the Old Testament theme of God’s control over the chaotic waters (Ps 65:8; 89:10; 93:3–4; 107:29). Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. 27The men were amazed and said, “What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?”
The Healing of the Gadarene Demoniacs.
28#l. [8:28–34] Mk 5:1–17; Lk 8:26–37. When he came to the other side, to the territory of the Gadarenes,#Gadarenes: this is the reading of Codex Vaticanus, supported by other important textual witnesses. The original reading of Codex Sinaiticus was Gazarenes, later changed to Gergesenes, and a few versions have Gerasenes. Each of these readings points to a different territory connected, respectively, with the cities Gadara, Gergesa, and Gerasa (modern Jerash). There is the same confusion of readings in the parallel texts, Mk 5:1 and Lk 8:26; there the best reading seems to be “Gerasenes,” whereas “Gadarenes” is probably the original reading in Matthew. The town of Gadara was about five miles southeast of the Sea of Galilee, and Josephus (Life 9:42) refers to it as possessing territory that lay on that sea. Two demoniacs: Mark (5:1–20) has one. two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him. They were so savage that no one could travel by that road. 29They cried out, “What have you to do with us,#What have you to do with us?: see note on Jn 2:4. Before the appointed time: the notion that evil spirits were allowed by God to afflict human beings until the time of the final judgment is found in Enoch 16:1 and Jubilees 10:7–10. Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?” 30Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding.#The tending of pigs, animals considered unclean by Mosaic law (Lv 11:6–7), indicates that the population was Gentile. 31The demons pleaded with him, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine.”#m. [8:31] Lk 4:34, 41. 32And he said to them, “Go then!” They came out and entered the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea where they drowned. 33The swineherds ran away, and when they came to the town they reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs. 34Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district.