If the Sermon on the Mount were all that Matthew recorded, that small piece of inspired literature would declare the very majesty of the One Who spoke those words. The sermon now complete, our Lord leaves the mountain to enter His market place. The very first words we encounter as we enter the eighth chapter of Matthew capture our attention: “And when he was come down from the mountain” (8:1). Strictly speaking those half dozen English words describe His descent from an earthly mountain to the plains below. But suppose Jesus had stayed in the mountain? What if He had built some monastery and lived out His life on isolation? Had He done so, the miracles in this chapter, yea the whole of Matthew, would have never been recorded, and the teachings and instructions delivered on the mount would have been nothing more than the wisdom of just another Rabbi speaking to His band of devoted zealots who, at the end of their lifelong journey, would have summed up the experience in the words of the two men traveling to Emmaus: “But we hoped that it was he who should redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). Thank God that Jesus did come down from that mountain! Consider the following.
He Came Down From The Mountain Of Happiness To Bear Our Sorrows
Each of the three miracles of healing in this portion of our study is vitally connected with that beautiful chapter of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53. Matthew told us these things were done “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through Isaiah the prophet, saying: Himself took our infirmities, and bare our diseases” (8:17). The Old Testament passage is Isaiah 53:4-6: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” “Griefs” and “sorrows” – pay attention to those two words, keeping in mind the context of Isaiah’s prophecy. The sorrow to which Isaiah refers was deeper and more profound than the emotional ache in the hearts of men that might arise from time to time. The Suffering Servant did not come to open a grief-counseling center or to wipe the tears of those whose lives had been disrupted by physical disease and multiple maladies, and then go about business as usual.
Our Lord was fully aware that back of all the disease and suffering is the problem of sin. The true sorrow of the world can be traced to sin, whether a person’s own individual sin or the sin of humanity. Sin was introduced into the world by Adam (Rom. 5:12-21), and it spread into every corner of this globe and to every successive generation by individual choice. Jesus’ power to heal the leper by the touch of His hand, or to heal the centurion’s servant from a distance by His spoken word, finds its significance in His overall mission to “seek and to save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). Was this not the point in the case of the man sick of the palsy where Jesus asked His critics: “Which is easier, to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee; or to say, Arise and walk?” (Luke 5:23). When it is said that Jesus bore “our griefs, and carried our sorrows” (Isa. 53:4) it is heaven’s way of telling us of the great mission of our King to address
the root cause of those sorrows. He did this by being “wounded for our transgressions” and “bruised for our iniquities” (Isa. 53:5). Can you imagine a king who would be willing to pay the penalty for the crimes of the citizens of his kingdom? Pick your dictator or despot, and the story is the same. It is most often the case that the innocent suffer for the crimes of the king. But our King came down from the mount of happiness to bear our sorrows.
Continued next week.
Tom Wacaster serves on the faculty of the Memphis School of Preaching