January 24, 2015: Daily Bible Reading Commentary for Matthew 8-10
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Context: Following the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus begins to perform miracles; healing the sick and lame, calming the winds and waves, and casting out demons. The power of faith is demonstrated by a Roman centurion and a sick woman. Take note of the diversity of those that were healed. Jesus cared not for who you were or your social standing, unlike the Pharisees who viewed themselves as above others and could not understand why Jesus, a great teacher of the law would lower Himself to eat with sinners and tax collectors. The Pharisees continued to remains suspicious and skeptical of Jesus’ actions, attempting to poison the thoughts others had of Jesus. Today’s reading ends with Jesus sending out His 12 disciples, who are listed for the first time, to minister on their own. Jesus gives them specific instructions and warnings, and the power and authority to drive out evil spirits and heal the sick and lame.
World History: During this time, tax collectors were looked down upon by all. Matthew, the believed author of this book, a tax collector prior to being called to follow the Lord Jesus. Tax collectors were so disliked because they were notorious for extorting additional money and then pocketing it, which is why Jesus’ association with them was shocking. Jesus is often noted as healing lepers. Those with leprosy were seen as already dead. It was a disease from which there was no cure. They were outcast and healthy people were required to stay a certain distance from them. Jesus is also noted for casting out demons and evil spirits. The ancient historian Josephus recorded that the nation was evil and that people were obsessed with magic. As such, they were familiar with evil spirits.