19 December 2007

Matthew 8:14-17, 28-34

"That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and cured all who were sick. This was to fulfil what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah, 'He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.'" (v.16-17)


This passage comes straight after Matthew's recording of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. Jesus moves from words to action. Chapter 8 catalogues a number of healing miracles of which these are two.

Matthew makes some interesting connections here as he describes Jesus' healing ministry. People "possessed by demons" are neatly and naturally considered alongside those who were just "sick". And he stresses the connection with Isaiah's words from many centuries earlier, looking forward to the healing work of the Messiah.

Therefore, in effect Matthew says: "Here is Jesus, the Messiah we've been waiting for, healing all kinds of ailments as we knew he would".

Holistic health care - in which the whole person, body, mind and spirit, is treated as a single entity - is a concept which has been overlooked at some stages of medical history and practice. Whilst much modern medical practice is extremely clever and effective, sometimes its technological basis seems to overshadow the human being for whom it is intended. Yet here we see Jesus concerned with people, their well-being and healing, irrespective of their original problems.

To Ponder

How do those "possessed by demons" and the "sick" of Jesus' time reflect those who need healing today?

How do you balance your own understanding and experience of modern medicine with a sense of God's healing work today?

Bible notes author

The Revd Peter Byass

Peter is a Methodist minister who spends a large part of his time working on the global health scene, from his working base as professor of Global Health at the University of Umeå (in Sweden) and on frequent field visits. Until recently he also chaired the Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF).