What does Matthew 8:4 mean?
ESV: And Jesus said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a proof to them.”
NIV: Then Jesus said to him, 'See that you don't tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.'
NASB: And Jesus *said to him, 'See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.'
CSB: Then Jesus told him, "See that you don't tell anyone; but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them."
NLT: Then Jesus said to him, 'Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.'
KJV: And Jesus saith unto him, See thou tell no man; but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
Jesus has just healed a man of leprosy, though that's not a term either of them used. Matthew has referred to the man using Greek terms such as lepra and lepros (Matthew 8:2–3), which can suggest a wide range of skin conditions. The worst of these, Hansen's Disease, is what modern culture commonly calls leprosy. However, the man's declaration was that Jesus had the power to "make [him] clean." Christ did exactly that, with a touch.
For the man, the ceremonial state of uncleanness caused by his condition was, apparently, the worst part of his disease. He would have been separated not only from the worship of God in the temple, but also from the daily lives of the people, including friends and family.
Once the man is healed, Jesus commands him not to tell anyone about it. Matthew will report on several moments in Jesus' ministry when He commands people not to talk about His power or reveal that He is the Messiah (Matthew 9:30; 12:16; 16:20; 17:9). Some commentators call this the "messianic secret." It may be that Jesus did not want to draw too much attention to His role as the Messiah too early in His ministry. There are moments in His ministry where people respond to His power with a desire for revolution against Rome (John 6:15). This is what many Israelites hoped and assumed Messiah would do.
However, Christ's mission was not to overthrow Rome. His mission was to die for the sins of humanity. Asking people not to publicize His power may have been aimed at keeping that mission on track. Part of that might have meant keeping the size of the crowds following Him from getting out of hand (Matthew 8:1). Mark's recounting of this same incident tells us the man completely ignored Jesus' command not to tell anyone. Instead, he "began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter" (Mark 1:45).
Jesus gave the healed man one more command. He told him to go show himself to the priest and offer the gift of a sacrifice commanded by Moses. That sacrifice included "two live clean birds and cedarwood and scarlet yarn and hyssop" (Leviticus 14:4–8). Once the priest inspected the man and received the sacrifice, the man would be declared officially and ceremonial clean and allowed to return to the community.
It's possible Jesus includes the words "for a proof to them" because He wanted to give the priests evidence of His power in the healing of this former leper. Prior to this moment, only Miriam (Numbers 12:14–15) and the gentile Naaman (2 Kings 5:14) had ever been healed of such a condition. This was evidence Israel's religious leaders would ignore or discount when later accusing Jesus of blasphemy for claiming to be the Christ.
Matthew 8:1–4 describes Jesus' encounter with a man afflicted with leprosy. In great faith and humility, the man kneels before Jesus and declares that Jesus can make him clean if He wants to. Jesus touches the man, and the man immediately healed. Jesus commands the man not to tell anyone about what has happened. Instead, he is to go to the priest to present the offerings commanded by Moses for healed lepers who want to be officially declared clean again.
Matthew begins a series of stories revealing Jesus' authority over sickness, demons, and even the weather. Jesus heals a humble man with leprosy and great faith. He then heals the servant of a Roman centurion who understands that Jesus does not need to come to his home; He can just speak a word. Jesus praises the Gentile man's amazing faith. After healing many more, Jesus and the disciples get caught in a deadly storm on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus stops the storm with a word. Later, He casts demons out of two men and into a huge herd of pigs.
Matthew 8 follows the conclusion of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1–2). He turns to telling a series of dramatic stories to show Jesus' power and authority over every kind of disease, over demons, and even over the weather. Jesus also gives brief teachings about the hard road of following Him on earth. He calms a violent storm with a single command and casts demons from two violently possessed men. Matthew will focus mostly on miracles until shifting focus to Jesus' teachings and parables in chapter 11.
The Gospel of Matthew clearly shows the influence of its writer's background, and his effort to reach a specific audience. Matthew was one of Jesus' twelve disciples, a Jewish man, and a former tax collector. This profession would have required literacy, and Matthew may have transcribed some of Jesus' words as they were spoken. This book is filled with references to the Old Testament, demonstrating to Israel that Jesus is the Promised One. Matthew also includes many references to coins, likely due to his former profession. Matthew records extensive accounts of Jesus' teaching, more than the other three Gospels.
Accessed 11/30/2023 5:23:12 AM
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