Having concluded recording the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew continues in chapters 8 and 9 to describe the events that follow, as Jesus comes down from the mountain where he taught. These chapters describe ten miracles that Jesus executed. The same Jesus who is the Preacher of the Sermon of the Mount, now cleanses a leper, heals a Centurion’s servant, heals Peter’s mother-in-law, stills a storm, and casts out demons. The same author who recorded the words of Jesus’ sermon now describes the miraculous, and the apposition of these two occasions (the sermon and the miracles) is not arbitrary. One might be tempted to marginalize the valley of healings of an unnamed leper or demoniac, compared to the mountain top of ethical and spiritual teaching of Jesus’ great sermon. In fact some who claim to admire the ethical teachings of the Preacher, at the same time do not care to deal with the supernatural Person who heals and casts out demons. After all doesn’t physical affliction pale in comparison to great spiritual truth? Yes … unless you’re the one who is afflicted; to the one afflicted, healing becomes very important. I’m sure if we could ask Peter’s mother-in-law or the demoniac, they would agree, as any of us would who have experienced Jesus’ healing touch.
Jesus not only powerfully preaches on mountains, but He graciously heals in valleys. The Lord who preached the Sermon on the Mount is the same Lord who calls us to dependence upon His power for our very life. His personal work and power are inseparable from His teachings – one is the demonstration of the power of the other. In chapters 8 and 9 we see the loving care of Shepherd Jesus for individual sheep. It is His tenderness and concern for individuals that actually embodies the words of the Sermon. Commentator Frederick Bruner observes that the five miracles relayed in chapter 8, uniformly and dramatically teach the doctrine of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. As such he calls this chapter, “The Five Miracles of Grace.” We as a church, understanding the grace of Jesus and Christ and following after our Master, must not only seek to learn and apply the teachings of Jesus, but also regularly pray for and care for the sick. So as we come down from the mount of the sermon, to the valley of real suffering, may we be a known as a people of the book – both in our learning as well as in our mercy for those individuals who are in need around us.