Matthew 8 – The Leper Cleansed & Demons

Nobody can prove that demons exist, but we can’t prove the God exits either.  I know that He is real, but I can’t prove it.  Yet, all one has to do is look around.  Where did all of this come from without God?

Oldest Evidence Of Leprosy Found In India
The skeleton was around 37 years old when it was buried 4,000 years ago.

Leprosy is a granulomatous (nodule) disease of the peripheral nerves and upper respiratory tract mucosa, caused by immune system unsuccessfully trying to sequester the infectious bacterium Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis.

Unlike popular belief, body parts falling off is not the primary symptom of leprosy, but rather skin lesions are the main external manifestation of the disease. The damage to the nerves affects blood flow and ultimately causes necrosis of tissue, which happens in during the advanced lepromatous stages.

God created every (Jn 1:3), even evil (Is 45:7), and He created Satan and booted him out so I believe in him too.  And Paul even claims they exist:

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph 6:12).

In the next chapter Jesus does a good thing, something that no man has ever been able to do, and what do they do?

 Matthew 8
The Leper Cleansed

1 When he was come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed him.

2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

3 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

4 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.

5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,

Capernaum
This village is on the northern side of Sea of Galilee, and was the center of the activities of Jesus and his town during that time. A grand 4th C Ad Synagogue was excavated, which stood over the Synagogue from the time of Jesus.

“Centurion” – a Roman soldier in charge of 100 soldiers.

6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.

7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.

8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.

9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

10 When Jesus heard it, he marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.

12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The synagogue from Peter’s house
Situated prominently in ancient Capernaum is the white stone synagogue, much of it still standing. This present structure has been dated to the fourth century A.D. However, underneath the synagogue is a black basalt foundation of an earlier structure. Some feel this foundation belongs to the synagogue in Jesus’ time.

“Children of the kingdom” – Jews who thought their Judaism was an inherited passport for entrance into the kingdom.

13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

14 And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever.

15 And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.

16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick:

17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.

18 Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side.

Ancient synagogue at Capernaum from around the fourth or fifth century A.D.

19 And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.

20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

21 And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.

22 But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.

“Let the dead bury their dead” – let the spiritually dead bury the physically dead.  The time of Jesus’ ministry was short and demanded full attention and commitment.  This statement stresses the radical demands of Jesus’ discipleship, since Jews placed great importance on the duty of children to bury their parents.

23 And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him.

24 And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep.

25 And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish.

26 And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.

Kursi (Gergesa) is a picturesque setting on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The site has a rich history. A Byzantine community was established here and it thrived for over two centuries.

27 But the men marveled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

28 And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.

“Country of the Gergesnes” – the region around the city of Gergesa, in the hills of the east of the sea of Galilee.  Mark and Luke identify the region by the city of Gadara, located about six miles southeast of the sea.

29 And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?

30 And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding.

“Herd of many swine” – large numbers of Gentiles lived in Galilee.  Normally Jews didn’t raise pigs since they were considered the most “unclean” of all animals.

31 So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.

Israel, Sea Of Galilee, Kursi, Gergesa, Byzantine Monastery And Mosaic Floor The Traditional Site Of Jesus Miracle Of Casting Out The Legion Of Demons Into A Herd Of Swine

32 And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.

33 And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the city, and told everything, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils.

34 And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.

“Besought him that he would depart” – they were probably more concerned about their financial loss than about the deliverance of the miserable demon-possessed man.

Instead of thanking Him they wanted Him to leave.  That’s the Jews for you, and what makes it worse is that Jesus was a Jew.  The majority of the Jewish were of Judaism. 

They didn’t and still don’t believe Jesus is the Messaih and they live by Old Testament traditions, so let’s take a look at the Jewish Meals and Meal Customs.

Demons

Many readers assume that the belief in demons attested in the New Testament is simply a function of its authors’ sharing in the superstitious beliefs and practices of all ancient peoples. The question of the reality of demons, of course, cannot be settled by archaeology.

After Samuel had died, he was buried in Ramah. After Samuel’s death, Saul received no answer from God from dreams, prophets, or the Urim and Thummim as to his best course of action against the assembled forces of the Philistines.

Consequently Saul, who has earlier driven out all necromancers and magicians from Israel, seeks out a medium, anonymously and in disguise. Following the instruction of her visitor, the woman claims that she sees the ghost of Samuel rising from the abode of the dead.

The voice of the prophet’s ghost, after complaining of being disturbed, berates Saul for disobeying God, and predicts Saul’s downfall, with his whole army, in battle the next day, then adds that Saul and his sons will join him, then, in the abode of the dead. Saul is shocked and afraid, and following the encounter his army is defeated and Saul commits suicide after being wounded.

The woman is described as “a woman with an ob” (אוֹב, a talisman or perhaps wineskin) in Hebrew, which may be a reference to ventriloquism, and claims to see “elohim arising” from the ground.

Researchers can demonstrate, however, that the notion that the New Testament writers simply shared the prescientific views of their contemporaries is simplistic and misleading.

Demons in the
Ancient Near East

Ancient Near Eastern society was awash in texts containing magical incantations and amulets intended to protect people from evil spirits (spells for defense against demons are called “apotropaic spells”).

For example, one of the feared demons of Neo-Assyrian times was the lion-headed female figure Lamash-tu, who was thought especially to attack pregnant women and babies. For protection women wore a necklace with a pendant of the god Pazuzu.

An enormous number of apotropaic spells have survived from Babylonia, employing magical words and rituals involving plants, animal parts and other sacred objects.  Even today in the eastern Mediterranean it is not uncommon to see amulets intended to ward off the “evil eye.”

Demons in Non-biblical Jewish Literature

Ancient Jewish literature was also fascinated with magic as a means of dealing with demons. The Apocryphal book of Tobit tells the story of one “Sarah, daughter of Raguel,” who had been married—and widowed on her wedding night through the intervention of the demon Asmodeus—seven times.

This Jewish incantation bowl features ancient magic spells written in Aramaic script spiraling around a bound demon in the hope that it will ward off evil.

Meanwhile Tobias, the son of the blind Tobit, journeyed to Media, where Sarah lived, traveling in the company of a man who turned out to be the angel Raphael. While Tobias was sitting by the Tigris River a fish tried to eat his foot.

Raphael instructed Tobias to seize the fish and extract its gall, heart and liver. If he would burn the heart and liver in the presence of an individual afflicted by a demon, that person would be delivered.

Arriving in Media, Raphael informed Tobias that he was to marry Sarah but that he could thwart the demon, Asmodeus, by burning the fish’s liver and heart when he went in to her. Tobias safely took Sarah as his wife, after which he used the fish gall to cure his father’s blindness.

The Testimony of Solomon further illustrates the widespread belief in apotropaic magic. This is a pseudepigraphical work (one that falsely claims to have been written by a famous person of the Old Testament) attributed to Solomon.

In this work Solomon received a powerful ring from the angel Michael. With it he could imprison or control demons and deliver people from affliction. For example, Solomon forced the demon LixTet-rax to help build the temple by hurling stones up to the workers.

Demons in the Old Testament

The Old Testament is remarkably reticent about evil spirits, so much so that it seems to have no developed demonology. Even so, three facts stand out:

– There are no incantations, rituals or amulets prescribed for giving an individual protection from spirits. Considering how much of the Torah is devoted to ritual and to sacred objects, this is a remarkable omission.

This Jewish incantation bowl features ancient magic spells written in Aramaic script spiraling around a bound demon in the hope that it will ward off evil.

– God is said to have complete authority over the spirits, which cannot operate in the world without his approval. If a “lying spirit” goes out, it is only with divine consent (1 Kgs 22:23; cf. Job 1-2).

– The main concern of the Old Testament writers was that people avoid seeking to avail themselves of magical powers through contact with spirits (e.g., Deut 18:10-12).

Demons in
the New Testament

The New Testament demonstrates two realities about evil spirits:

– Jesus alone (Lk 4:41) has absolute power over them, but this was a matter of divine authority, not magic or sorcery.

Bronze amulet head of Pazuzu. Neo-Assyrian period, circa 800-550 BCE. Probably from Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), northern Iraq

– The New Testament mocks the claims of magicians by describing their inability to deal with real spirits. The failed efforts of Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8:9-24) and the sons of Sceva (Acts 19:14-16) to obtain apostolic authority illustrates the point that the miracles of the New Testament had nothing in common with ancient magic.

Jesus had no use for demonic spirits and did not seek to employ them to do his bidding.