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Lesson Plan for Matthew 8; Mark 2-4; & Luke 7

After coming off the mount near Capernaum where the Savior gave his Sermon on the Mount, we read the following in Luke:

READ LUKE 6:17-19
"17 ¶ And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judæa and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases;

18 And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed.

19 And the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all."
One scholar recalls how this would have been reminiscent of the miraculous scene at the base of Sinai when heavenly wonders were seen by the whole of Moses' camp. (1) Here in Capernaum, in a valley between mountains, a stupendous healing and heavenly display was put on that brought to mind Moses's works. It would have brought to mind prophecies of a new Moses to come among the children of Israel.

In the Book of Matthew, this idea of miracles representing a 'new Exodus' into the Kingdom of God is shown in numbers. One scholar notes how Matthew chapters 8 & 9 are meant to go together if one looks at manuscripts and, therefore, points out how there are 10 miracles performed within these chapters. He goes on to comment, "Moses had performed ten miracles in Egypt, and Jewish scholars counted ten miracles in the wilderness. It appears that Matthew clustered these ten events—and reported many others with less specific detail—to show that Jesus the Christ came with great power as the fulfiller of the law of Moses." (2)

Why is this significant? Much of the anticipatory prophecies of the coming Messiah revolved around comparisons to Moses who delivered ancient Israel from Egypt (see Deuteronomy 18:15-18). Jesus was also paralleled often with King David and Abraham. All of these men were anointed ones, fathers, and Saviors for the whole of Israel. Jesus had come to save as well, but in a way that would be much harder to see.


For example, one of the Greek words for 'saved' is 'sōzō'. Christ's description as Savior comes from a similar word 'soter'. To be saved in this sense has a more full meaning of being healed and preserved or gathered in. The Lord, in other words, is healing and gathering for a purpose. The Come Follow Me Manual asks the question that we are going to try to answer, "Why the emphasis on physical healing?" (3)

This idea is further clarified by Jesus in a few instances where he said that "the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand" (see Matthew 4:17) The Savior is going to be plainer in an event recounted in Luke chapter 7 when he is approached with a question by disciples of John the Baptist.

READ LUKE 7:20-22
"20 When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?

21 And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight.

22 Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached."

Does Jesus answer their question here? What is Jesus saying? Was he the new Moses or the new David who should come? He was healing and saving many; but for what purpose?

In verse 22, Jesus quotes a host of phrases from Messianic Millennial prophecies from Isaiah (see Isaiah 29:18, 35:4-6, & Isaiah 60:1-3). This would have been a plain answer to John the Baptist, his disciples, and the surrounding crowd.

In my opinion, this is one of the keys to unlocking the meaning of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, & Luke). Biblical scholar of towering reputation, N.T. Wright, comments:
"No point putting the world right if the people are still broken. So broken people will be healed: paralytics, epileptics, demoniacs, people with horrible skin diseases, a servant on the point of death, an old woman with a high fever, blind men, deaf and mute men, a little girl who’s technically already dead, an old woman with a persistent hemorrhage. And so on, and so on. Matthew lets the list build up until we almost take it for granted: yes, here’s a person who’s sick; Jesus will cure her... Heaven and earth were being joined up. The joining place was visible where the healings were taking place, [where miracles were happening], where forgiveness was happening. In other words, the joining place, the overlapping circle, was taking place where Jesus was and in what he was doing. Jesus was, as it were, a walking Temple. A living, breathing place-where-Israel’s-God-was-living." (Simply Jesus, p. 133)
Jesus was folding time. He was bringing the Kingdom to the Jews there and then. He was performing the healing, miracles, and forgiveness long promised by prophets of old. This idea is somewhat supported by President Kimball who once taught that when Satan is bound in our lives "the Millennium has already begun in that life" (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 172).

Therefore, this healing and miracle narrative can be a preview of what the Kingdom is like if we come unto Christ. The Nephites also get a large taste of this when the Savior comes and, basically, establishes a mini-millennium with them for a few hundred years.

As members of Modern Day Israel, but still, in a sense Gentiles, the miracle on the Roman Centurion's servant or son is instructive on this point.

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

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 marvelled, 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.

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."
Jesus marvels at the faith of a Gentile here. He lets the Roman Centurion onto a secret in verse 11. Better translations render the verse as many coming from the east and west to "join the great party of celebration with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom heaven" (The Kingdom New Testament, p. 13). One commentary notes this is about "an eschatological banquet theme frequently connected with God's final rule" (Oxford Study Bible, p. 1275).

The Prophet Joseph Smith once wrote of this coming banquet:
"Those who keep the commandments of the Lord and walk in His statutes to the end, are the only individuals permitted to sit at this glorious feast. … Reflect for a moment, brethren [and sisters], and enquire, whether you would consider yourselves worthy [of] a seat at the marriage feast." (4)

Revelation 3:20 allows for a feast with Christ sooner rather than later if we would but open the door he is knocking on. With eyes to see and ears to hear, how is the kingdom at hand in our day? Where is the banquet today? Or, at least, how do the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ compare to the oncoming divine banquet?

While the story of the Roman Centurion's son ends in healing, the Lord chooses to focus the man's mind first on this gathering or saving effort that would eventually fill the world. One Church Scholar has beautifully written of an experience he had with a Jewish media member:
"At a time when [members of the Church] were hotly criticized in the media for vicarious baptisms of Jews, I was interviewed by a Philadelphia radio station. The host, himself Jewish, asked me: “Why are you baptizing my dead ancestors?” I replied that [members of the Church] believed our Father intended a marriage feast at the end of earthly time, and he desired his whole family to attend. As Latter-day Saints, stewards of the temples, we feel it our privilege and responsibility to put everyone’s name on the guest list. No one has to come, but we believe all should have the invitation.” He responded, half in jest, “what a beautiful idea. How do I get my name on your list?” But I like to think he was half serious. It is more than a beautiful idea. It is a belief of unparalleled generosity and liberality." (5)
It could just be that our work in temples might be comparable to why the Lord healed so many during his mortal ministry.


Let's now zoom in a little bit on some of the themes found in the other healings that took place in these chapters.

READ MARK 2:1-12
"1 And again he entered into Capernaum after some days; and it was noised that he was in the house.

2 And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he preached the word unto them.

3 And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.

4 And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.

5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.

6 But there were certain of the scribes sitting there, and reasoning in their hearts,

7 Why doth this man thus speak blasphemies? who can forgive sins but God only?

8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?

9 Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?

10 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,)

11 I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house.

12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion."
If you note the Greek in verse one (see the scripture footnote 1a), Christ was in his current place of residence when the crowd gathered. Ancient Christian writings and traditions dating all the way back to the first century suggest this was Peter's house in Capernaum. Scholars even suggest we might even know the exact house or building this was and that it still stands in modern-day Capernaum. It was transformed into a Christian Church during the very early period of Christianity.


Why do you think the first thing Christ says to the paralyzed man after he is lowered through the roof is, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee"?

Could it be possible in approaching the Savior the man was, at this moment, more haunted by his sins than his physical condition?

This declaration of forgiveness causes a stir among some scribes who were present and Jesus essentially tells them, "If you want a sign that I have the power to forgive sins, then this man will arise and walk!"

We get a parallel of this idea in the story of Jesus healing a man with leprosy.

"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."
When the leper asks to be made clean, the Greek is 'katharisai' which at its root can mean to be cleansed spiritually and ceremonially.


Why would the leper be more concerned about being spiritually or ritually cleansed than being physically healed?

The scriptures draw a very close line between healing, repentance, and forgiveness. Note how these healings and forgiveness of sin took place almost as quick as it took to literally approach the Savior. A physical ailment was removed easily in all these instances and its quickness was only matched by how quick the Lord was willing to forgive the individuals. It ought to teach us a lesson about repentance that runs counter to our culture.

Jeffrey R. Holland has commented:
"If there is one lament I cannot abide—and I hear it from adults as well as [younger folk]—it is the poor, pitiful, withered cry, “Well, that’s just the way I am.” If you want to talk about discouragement, that phrase is one that discourages me. Though not a swearing man, I am always sorely tempted to try my hand when I hear that. Please spare me your speeches about “That’s just the way I am.” I’ve heard that from too many people who wanted to sin and call it psychology. And I use the word sin to cover a vast range of habits, some seemingly innocent enough, that nevertheless bring discouragement and doubt and despair. You can change anything you want to change, and you can do it very fast. That’s satanic suckerpunch—that it takes years and years and eons of eternity to repent. It takes exactly as long to repent as it takes you to say, “I’ll change”—and mean it." (6)
The Savior knew the man with leprosy and the man with the palsy meant it since both of them sought spiritual wholeness first. How many of us continue to suffer and desire to be healed because we misunderstand repentance? If we want to show Faith, we need to be willing to give away all our sins in order to know Christ (see Alma 22:18). Healing, the spiritual kind, comes in no other way.



What if the Savior feels far away from us? How do we seek healing then?

READ LUKE 7:11-16
"11 ¶ And it came to pass the day after, that he went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with him, and much people.

12 Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her.

13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.

14 And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.

15 And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.

16 And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.

17 And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judæa, and throughout all the region round about."
These scriptures quote a few times the story of Elijah and the widow in 1 Kings 17. It should be remembered that Elijah raised that widow's son from the grave as well and that widow was a Gentile. Luke, again, is structuring a narrative for a Gentile audience.

In addition, in verse 1 we are told that the disciples left Capernaum and traveled to Nain for this miracle the next day. The small city of Nain was a 30-mile trek from Capernaum and entirely uphill (Nain is about 1300 feet higher in elevation than Capernaum). One BYU professor notes that it is about a 10-hour walk on paved roads. (7) Furthermore, it is highly likely Jesus and His disciples woke up in the middle of the night to intercept the funeral procession of the widow's son.

This is the Savior of the Universe, after being approached by probably hundreds for healing, dropping everything to minister to, probably, the neediest person in Israel on this day. There are times when the Savior will succor His people like this. 'Succor' is a word Alma uses in Alma 7:12 to describe the Savior's actions towards us. The word comes from the Latin 'succursus' which literally means "to run to the rescue". (8) The Savior literally did this in this instance. He traveled uphill, 30 miles, and overnight to be there for this widow.


When have you been like the widow in Nain where the healing comes at what appears to have been the last moment? What can this experience teach us as disciples of the master as we seek to succor others?


Sometimes the Lord has to remind us who he actually is. Sometimes we witness things so cosmic or receive blessings so specific that we are left with an obligation to remember (see Moroni 10:3-4). The disciples witness something they would have understood to be 'cosmic' in this last miracle.

READ MARK 4:35-41
"35 And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side.

36 And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships.

37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.

38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?

39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?"


When have you felt that the Lord doesn't care that you perish? What lessons can we learn from this as we navigate the storming waters in our lives?

One wonders why the awe-struck response from the disciples "What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?" In Genesis, Isaiah, and heavily throughout the Psalms there is a theme of the cosmic waters of creation doing battle with the Lord. The plainest of these scriptures comes from Isaiah who wrote:
"27 On that day the Lord with his cruel and great and strong sword will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will kill the dragon that is in the sea." (see Isaiah 27:1 NRSV)
One Church Scholar, Ben Spackman, summarizes the significance:
"In other words, while there were other Jewish and Greco-roman claimants to healings, miracles, exorcisms, etc., in defeating the raging waters, Jesus demonstrates that he wields cosmic divine power capable of bending the fundamental fabric of the universe with a word... and then go back to sleep. It's no wonder their reaction was essentially, "Who IS this guy?!" (9)
What would your reaction be if you saw someone slay a dragon?

These miracles illustrate to us that we worship a Savior who is a King, healer, minister to the one, succorer, and, lastly, the Lord of the Universe. These contrasts of the reach of his power ought to enable us to place our Faith solely upon Him. Neal A. Maxwell eloquently puts it this way:
"Yet in the vastness of His creations, the Lord of the universe, who notices the fall of every sparrow, is our personal Savior, of which I give apostolic testimony..." (10)

The message of all this is encapsulated perfectly by the wonderful hymn, "Master, the Tempest is Raging". The author of the words, Mary Ann Baker, had a tumultuous and trying past that can give comfort to us, even more so, when we ponder the words of that hymn.
"Mary Ann Baker was left an orphan when her parents died of tuberculosis. She and her sister and brother lived together in Chicago. When her brother was stricken with the same disease that had killed their parents, the two sisters gathered together the little money they had and sent him to Florida to recover. But within a few weeks, he died, and the sisters did not have sufficient money to travel to Florida for his funeral nor to bring his body back to Chicago.” Of this trial Baker said, “I became wickedly rebellious at this dispensation of divine providence. I said in my heart that God did not care for me or mine. But the Master’s own voice stilled the tempest in my unsanctified heart, and brought it to the calm of a deeper faith and a more perfect trust.” (11)
Master, the tempest is raging!

The billows are tossing high!

The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness.

No shelter or help is nigh.

Carest thou not that we perish?

How canst thou lie asleep

When each moment so madly is threat’ning

A grave in the angry deep?

Master, with anguish of spirit

I bow in my grief today.

The depths of my sad heart are troubled.

Oh, waken and save, I pray!

Torrents of sin and of anguish

Sweep o’er my sinking soul,

And I perish! I perish! dear Master.

Oh, hasten and take control!

Master, the terror is over.

The elements sweetly rest.

Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,

And heaven’s within my breast.

Linger, O blessed Redeemer!

Leave me alone no more,

And with joy I shall make the blest harbor

And rest on the blissful shore.


The winds and the waves shall obey thy will:

Peace, be still.

Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea

Or demons or men or whatever it be,

No waters can swallow the ship where lies

The Master of ocean and earth and skies.

They all shall sweetly obey thy will:

Peace, be still; peace, be still.

They all shall sweetly obey thy will:

Peace, peace, be still.


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