Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 8:12a “But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out. . .”
Blunt speech is sometimes necessary. True prophets cannot say only complimentary things about their country, denomination, or church. Groups must be occasionally reminded it is possible for them to waste and lose their spiritual privileges.
This verse sounds a much needed warning against ethnic and religious pride. Many Gentiles will come into the kingdom of God; many in Israel will be cast out.
“Children” refers to those who expected to inherit the kingdom of God solely by right of their birth, and not by personal faith. Jesus’ kinsmen according to the flesh were the natural heirs to God’s kingdom, but disinherited themselves by their unbelief. Christ “came unto His own, and His own received Him not” (JN 1:11).
So close, yet so far–like John of Valois, who was a son, brother, uncle, and father of kings, but never became king himself. The Israelites had privileges and benefits, but for naught. Few reached out to embrace the pearl of great price itself.
Our text is a clarion call to children of godly parents, to cultures steeped in Christian heritage, to denominations and local churches founded on Biblical principles. With regard to God’s kingdom, humble outsiders continue to be brought inside, and smug insiders continue to fall outside.
It is conceivable that fifty years from now, an American tourist in Asia will say, “My grandfather was a preacher, but I gave that up long ago to enter the New Age, to bring my spirit into communion with forces of nature.” An Asian may respond, “That’s interesting. My grandfather was a witch doctor, and I gave that silly nonsense up to become a Christian.” The blessing of God can be taken away from one group, and transferred to another.
Matt. 8:12b “. . .into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of
This vivid image depicts people being thrown out of the brightly lit banquet hall. Darkness is a fit emblem, considering the nature of those who are cast there. It is the only element appropriate for people who spend their whole lives fleeing the light. The darkness of Hell is in people long before they enter the Hell of darkness.
The magnitude of even the least thought of Hell staggers the mind. Worms, fire, darkness, falling, grinding teeth, crying, dying without death, separation from God–all these horrors are multiplied and intensified by the fact they never end.
We have no way to grasp the concept of unending time, forever, everlasting. “In this life, sorrow is not yet sorrow” (Bengel), for it is always only temporary.
We do not want to go to Hell, and we do not want our loved ones to go there. God help us to do whatever it takes to detour people away from this awful place.
Matt. 8:13 “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.”
The centurion, a soldier in Rome’s imperial army, understood the irresistible power of a command given. He believed Jesus could order a disease to retreat. If Christ said to palsy, “Go,” it would go. The soldier, expecting Jesus’ command to be explicitly obeyed, did not exercise faith in vain. He was not disappointed.
The servant was healed, not partly and slowly, but completely and immediately. Recovery and convalescence were accomplished in one instantaneous stroke.
The servant, though far away, was healed by Jesus. His omnipotence still has a long arm, long enough to reach into our broken hearts and shattered dreams.
The centurion reminds us of the value and power of intercessory prayer. When all else has long since failed, the Lord often reaches the unreachable through our prayers on their behalf.
I heard of a mother whose children became Christians. They witnessed to her, but she adamantly refused Jesus and forbade them to speak with her about Him. These children did what they could. They lived consistent Christian lives and prayed for their mother. At age 65, without comment or explanation, she began reading the Bible on her own, and eventually yielded her life to Jesus.
The lost can shut us out, but can’t shut God out. Maybe we can’t talk to them about God, but we can talk to God about them. Never give up praying for anyone.
Matt. 8:14a “And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s
mother laid,. . .”
Peter had a wife. This undermines the “first Pope” theory. I am grateful Jesus saw no advantage in a celibate clergy. I maybe could have taken a vow of poverty, but celibacy, no way. Jesus was a single adult, but His Apostles and brothers married (1 Cor. 9:5). Neither state is in and of itself better or holier than the other.
Peter and his wife were travelling companions. Clement of Alexandria conveys the tradition that they served together in God’s work. Peter preached; his wife ministered to women. Clement says they were martyred together. Peter supposedly had to endure the ordeal of seeing his wife be martyred before he was. As she was taken to die first, Peter reportedly spoke comfort to her, and encouraged her, his last words being, “Remember the Lord.” However their end came, surely this visit to their house by Jesus made it easier for them when He called them to visit His house.
I thank God for a wonderful wife. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord. . . .House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord” (PR 18:22; 19:14 NAS). These verses are doubly true for ministers of the Gospel. My ministry would have ended long ago were it not for Ruth, the blessed help-meet God gave me nearly 29 years ago.
Matt. 8:14b “. . .and sick of a fever.”
Trouble and sickness invade even the best homes. Becoming a Christian does not end sorrow and pain. Yea, being a Spirit-filled Christian does not nullify illness and suffering. Extraordinary spirituality does not exempt from extraordinary trials. Peter was one of Jesus’ innermost circle of three, yet had a sick loved one.
Peter was no doubt special to Jesus. We may thus be tempted to think Peter’s nets would catch more fish than others, and his home would be free of trouble. But no, he once fished all night and caught nothing, and here pain darkened his house.
“You may have a house full of sanctity and full of sickness at the same time” (Spurgeon). Some say all sickness is due to evil or to a lack of faith. This is false and cruel teaching. It borders on blasphemy, for it implies that when we need Jesus the most, He is our adversary and tormentor rather than our friend and comforter.
When Lazarus was dying, his sisters Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus, “Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick” (JN 11:3). The same is still true today.