Faith and Authority (Matt. 8:1-4)

At the Sermon on the Mount many people were astonished. Jesus did not teach them like Pharisees and scribes, but as one who had authority (Matt. 8:1-2).  One of those who recognized the authority of Jesus was a leper. He approached Jesus and knelt down before him and called him “Lord” (8:3). Kneeling down before one and call the one lord must be an expression of acknowledgment of the authority of the one. However, what is more significant to notice from these actions is that the person has put him or herself under the authority of the one. That was exactly what the leper was doing. He recognized the authority of Jesus and put himself under His authority.

It is really surprising that the leper recognized Jesus’ authority and put himself under it. However, there is even more surprising thing than that. It is that the leper acknowledged Jesus’ authority as the one that was over even the leprosy, an incurable disease. So, he asked Jesus to heal him from his leprosy and he was healed. It may be an often case that a person acknowledges an authority of one and puts him or herself under it. However, it is not an often case to recognize an authority that is even over a disease. However, this was what the leper did. This means he recognized Jesus’ authority not as human one but as divine one. In other words, he recognized that Jesus was the Son of God, that is, in ancient Israelites’ term, the Messiah—the Savior. That is the most amazing thing to notice in the passage.

Then, how could he recognize Jesus as the Son of God? We can figure out an answer to this question through the context. First, it was through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The text does not specifically say that he heard it, however, it is not too much to infer that he did according to 8:1-2. It says, he approached Jesus as He was coming down from the mount having finished the Sermon. Then, how could he recognize Jesus as the Messiah through the Sermon. This is the second reason we can infer from the context. It was because he knew the prophecies in the Scripture about coming of the Messiah (cf. Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:39). This means that he believed the promise of God that He would send the Messiah and he was eagerly waiting for Him.

There is a thing we need to think about a little further: How eagerly was the leper waiting for the Messiah? An answer to this question can be found from the simple fact that he was a leper. In the ancient Israelite community, a leper was one of the most miserable. They were ceremonially unclean (Lev. 13) and they could not enter towns and were separated from the house of the Lord and even from their own families (Lev. 13:46; 2 Kings 26:21). Most of the leprosy was incurable by human efforts, thus, their hope was only in God (Luke 4:27). These tell us how eagerly he must have been waiting.

From this passage, we can learn a few lessons. One, we have to recognize Jesus and His authority, and that, His authority is over all things of our lives, even including the things that seem impossible in our understanding. This is the notion we have to put in our kneeling down before Jesus and calling Him “My Lord.” The other, thus, we always have to eager for Jesus as the Deliverer for us from every tribulation and adversity in our lives. Another, putting ourselves under Jesus’ authority, having recognized Him as the Son of God and His authority is what our faith has to do in us.

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