Lesson

Kingdom Come: Storms, Pigs and the Authority of Jesus (Matthew 8:23 – 9:8)

Bible Passage: Matthew 8:23 – 9:8

Throughout the passage here we see Jesus demonstrate His authority over a number of areas, showing His disciples the answers to some of the questions they were beginning to ask.

Storms – Matthew 8:23-33

We might be familiar with this story, but there’s more going on here that we perceive. In Jewish writings the sea represented wild and untameable power, remaining a place of darkness and evil. When a Jewish man or woman thought about the sea being tamed, they would think about the Exodus story, or the story of Jonah. So to have power over a storm was to have absolute authority. He rebukes the disciples and asks them, ‘why are you so afraid?’

Pigs
Jesus’ presence reduces the demons to begging Jesus, that is how much power and authority Jesus had. They asked for permission to go into a herd of pigs, they had to ask, they had no authority. Jewish people saw pigs as the most unclean animals, we see unclean spirits going into unclean animals.

We see here how Jesus’ presence on earth is starting to change things, His kingdom is being brought to earth. The demons ask Jesus, “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” illustrating that they knew Jesus was the ultimate authority, and their end was already coming. 

Authority of Jesus – Matthew 9:1-8
We see throughout chapter 8, each story, a growing climax. Starting from healing a leper, to controlling the elements and having authority over the demonic, and everyone is going ‘who is this man?’. The evil forces call Him the Son of God. We then turn to Chapter 9, and it begins Jesus’ journey to calvary. Over and over again we are reading that Jesus was the messiah.

It says Jesus saw their faith, He looks deep into the man’s soul and says ‘Your sins are forgiven’, another way of saying that your soul has been made right. And the crowd look around saying ‘Who is this man?’.

Sickness is a mark of the fall, and sometimes there’s a demonic reality, not always – but either way it is at least an indirect version of the enemy’s work. We need to understand Matthew’s worldview, because he is suggesting that this is part of the enemy’s work. Jesus’ work is always restoration, always a push against darkness. He has the ultimate authority.

Problem 1: We all experience suffering, but don’t think that suffering is a lesson to be learnt. He doesn’t will evil to happen so that we learn a lesson. A lot of us have allowed that question to become a distraction.

Problem 2: If we’re going to embrace Matthew’s worldview that Jesus came to wage war on the kingdom of darkness, then it means we have to embrace Him as our authority. At our core this is problematic. We challenge authority in every sphere, as a generation we’ve seen a breakdown in the institution of authority – i.e. marriage, government. We are forced to either believe it’s every man or woman for themself, or believe the narrative that is ours in the Kingdom of God.

Do you trust that Jesus is always working for our good?

Potential applications:

  • The call is to invite Jesus into the spaces we’ve not yet given Him authority; relationships, identity, addiction.
  • Perhaps it’s time to wait on the Lord, to experience His love, to defer to His authority in our situation.
  • If you’ve never yielded actual authority to Jesus, perhaps it’s time to acknowledge that He is our messiah, the one able to save.