About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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This Section -  Chapter 9

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ch. 9:1-8  ch. 9:9-13    ch. 9:14-17    ch. 9:18-26

ch. 9:27-34    ch. 9:35-38

Jesus Heals A Paralytic (ch. 9:1 - 8)     


In verse 1 we see Jesus and the others step back into the boat and head across the Sea of Galilee to His own town which was Capernaum . 


In verse 2 we note that certain men brought a paralyzed man to Jesus.  Matthew says that “when Jesus saw their faith…”.  We should note here that it wasn’t just the faith of the paralyzed man, but the faith of those who brought the paralyzed man to Jesus that caught Jesus’ attention. 


Remember faith means trust.  These men trusted Jesus’ ability to heal this paralytic. And so He did, but in so doing He caused some problems for Himself.  Jesus could have easily said something like “be healed” to this man.  He could have said nothing at all.  But what He did say is this, “take heart, son; your sins are forgiven”.


In verse 3 the teachers of the Law got furious with Jesus because Jesus told this man that his sins were forgiven.  These teachers rightfully believed that only God could forgive sin.  We need to understand what the word “forgive” means to properly understand what is going on here.  The word “forgive’ means “to cancel”.  So Jesus was in fact saying to this man that his sins were cancelled, just as if he had never sinned in the first place.  Only God can cancel sin, so in the eyes of the teachers of the Law, how could this man Jesus claim to have the authority to cancel someone’s sin.  This was truly blasphemy in their thinking. 


Verse 4 begins with “knowing their thoughts”.  Jesus had the ability to “know what people were thinking”.  And what He saw the teachers of the Law thinking, He said was evil.  Why was Jesus being so strong here?  Maybe these teachers were simply perplexed at what Jesus was saying.  But Jesus saw the intent of their hearts.  Even if they were perplexed, they still had evil intentions towards Jesus.


Also the fact that the teachers of  the Law called what Jesus was saying blasphemy was actually blasphemy itself.  By saying Jesus could not cancel sins, they were saying that He was not who He really was, which was God in human flesh.  For this reason Jesus could cancel sin.  He’s actually given to Christians the authority to cancel sin on His behalf.


In verse 5 Jesus tells these teachers that it’s just as easy to say your sins are forgiven as it is to say be healed.  Jesus has both the power to heal and the authority to cancel sin.   


Some people suggest that Jesus is relating sickness with sin here and that all sickness is a result of sin.  All sickness is a result of original sin, as in Adam’s sin, but all sickness is not necessarily a result of our individual sin.  Jesus specifically said that the blind man in John 9 was not blind because he sinned.  And there is no hint here that Jesus was relating sickness to sin.  He clearly says that saying “be healed”, or “be forgiven” are both equally easy for Him to do. 


Verse 6 clearly states the reason why Jesus said what He said, and He did say it on purpose.  He wanted everyone there to know that He did not just have the power to heal sickness, but He had the authority to cancel sin.  This is fundamental to Christian teaching.


After saying all of this Jesus finally tells the man to get up and go home. Verse 7 says that the man in fact did get up and go home. The man was probably perplexed himself at Jesus’ words of forgiveness.  He might well have thought that he came to be healed, not forgiven.  But he went home knowing that Jesus could do both.


Verse 8 tells us that the crowd was filled with awe knowing that God had given such authority to men. They were filled with awe because the man was healed but also because the one who healed him claimed to have authority to cancel sin, and if Jesus could heal such a sick man, then surely His claim to be able to cancel sin was authentic. 


Verse 8 states that the crowd was filled with awe because God had given “men” such authority.  This isn’t quite right thinking on the part of the crowd.  God had only given one man this authority, and that was Jesus.  It wasn’t until later when Jesus passed on this authority to the believers in Matt. 28 that other men received such authority to cancel sin.  The one thing we should note about Jesus giving us the authority to cancel sin is that we do not have the authority inherent within us to cancel sin as Jesus does.  Jesus has given us the authority to act in His place only.  It’s not that we have the ability to cancel sin as Jesus does.


The Calling Of Matthew (ch. 9:9  - 13)


In verse 9 we see that Jesus meets up with a tax collector sitting in his booth.  This kind of tax collecting was more of a toll tax, similar to toll roads in our times. Business men would pay business taxes as they passed by the booth.


The tax collector’s name was Matthew, and it is this Matthew who writes this gospel.  Jesus tells Matthew to get up and follow Him and Matthew immediately left his place collecting taxes to follow Jesus. 


You might ask, “how could Matthew just get up and leave his job”?  You might also ask, “why did Jesus expect him to just get up and leave on the spot”?  The answer may not be certain, but it is quite possible that Jesus had seen Matthew before and talked to Him on many occasions, and by the time Jesus asked him to follow Him, it was a natural thing to do.


Beyond the natural though is the spiritual.  When Jesus speaks the Holy Spirit speaks as well.  The Spirit surely spoke to the heart of Matthew, and through the power of the Spirit Matthew left his post to follow Jesus.


In verse 10 we see Jesus eating at Matthew’s house.  Jesus told Matthew to follow Him but it appears at some point Jesus actually followed Matthew to his place for a large meal with many other invited guests.  Some of the other guest were fellow tax collectors.  We need to understand that Jews hated these tax collectors because they were Jews working for the Roman government and so they were seen as traitors.  They also extorted the rest of the Jewish population.  The Romans told these tax collectors how much to collect from the Jews, but the Romans also allowed them to collect more than they needed in order to pocket the rest for themselves. 


Eating with tax collectors then would be a very bad sin in  the eyes of the Jewish leadership.  But there were more than just tax collectors at this party.  There were sinners.  The word “sinners” here and elsewhere refers to the morally bad.  This would includes prostitutes and sexually immoral people.  So eating with tax collectors is bad enough, but Jesus was eating with prostitutes and adulterers. 


Also in verse 10 we note that Jesus’ disciples were with Jesus eating with these unsavory people.  They surely understood the implications and might well have wondered what they were doing eating with these people.


In verse 11 we note that the Pharisees, the more strict group within the Jewish leadership saw what was happening.  By now they were following Jesus, trying to trap Him in a sin.  So they asked Jesus’ disciples why they and Jesus were eating with tax collectors and sinners.  I doubt if the disciples could answer this question properly.  They didn’t have to anyway because Jesus overheard the question and responded Himself.  He most likely knew the disciples at this point weren’t capable of answering such a question.


Jesus simply responds in verse 12 by saying that “it is not the healthy that need a doctor but the sick”.   Jesus is in fact agreeing with the Pharisees that these people He was eating with were needy, were sick, were sinners.  But His answer shows that you cannot help these sinners by staying away from them as the Pharisees did. 


Verse 13 is important.  Jesus tells the teachers of the Law to “go and learn what this means”.  It is clear that what Jesus is about to say these learned men haven’t considered and wouldn’t understand.  Jesus was about to quote an Old Testament prophet, and in the connection with Him eating with sinners, He wanted these men to figure out the meaning of the quote. 


Jesus quotes from Hosea 6:6 where the prophet speaks on behalf of God by saying, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice”.  This would be very hard for the Jewish leadership to hear.  All through the Old Testament God demanded sacrifices in accordance with the Law of Moses.  But the prophet, and Jesus too, states the real heart of God that is behind the Law.  Jesus says that God really desires mercy and not all the sacrifices made by Israel over the centuries.  This speaks volume to how New Testament Christians should view the Old Testament.


Jesus was living in Old Testament times, yet in one sense of the word these years of Jesus’ ministry were transitional times.  Jesus often hinted at the days when the Law of Moses would be replaced with trust in Him.  This was one of those times. Sacrifices were to be a temporary thing, something that was symbolic of the future reality of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross.  But God’s mercy is not temporary.  It is eternal.  It’s always been in the heart of God to show mercy and it’s always been in His heart for us to show mercy.  Jesus was showing mercy by eating with these undesirables.  Jesus was showing mercy by extending health to a sick group of people. 


But this is what I believe Jesus wanted these teachers of the Law to learn from what they’ve just seen and heard from Jesus.  The tax collectors and sinners were bad people.  The Jewish leaders were supposed to be good people who obey the Law with their sacrifices.  But what’s really in God’s heart was fro these Jewish leaders to extend mercy to these sinners.  God would prefer that over the animal sacrifices they offer Him.


So when God says that He desires mercy from us and not sacrifices, He’s telling us what is important.  We can sacrifice all we want, but if we don’t extend mercy, the sacrifice is meaningless in the eyes of God.     


Then Jesus says that “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners”. Once again we see that Jesus was agreeing with the Pharisees by calling these people sinners. Jesus was speaking of the people He was eating with.  At this point He made no comment on the Pharisees,  although we know that Jesus viewed them as the biggest sinners of all, but they were deemed as righteous by the Jews.  Jesus was speaking in the terms in which these Jewish Pharisees understood.  Tax collectors and sinners weren’t righteous.  Pharisees were viewed as righteous, even though they weren’t. 


One other thing to note is that Jesus had little time for the Pharisees, except for those few Pharisees that had a genuine interest in Him, like Nicodemus. Jesus would rather spend time with the out and out sinner than with the religious elite.  The sinner was more likely to hear what Jesus had to say.


Jesus Questioned About Fasting (ch. 9:14 - 17)


In verse 14 we see that Matthew mentions John’s disciples, meaning John the Baptist. John was in prison at this point.  These disciples ask Jesus why His disciples don’t fast and they do.   But you will notice that they associate themselves with the Pharisees, for it’s not only John’s disciples that fast but the Pharisees as well.


One might ask why John’s disciples would associate themselves with the Pharisees.  Well, one reason is simple.  They both fast.  Yet beyond the obvious, there might well be some tension and skepticism on the part of John’s disciples.  John was in prison.  Jesus doesn’t appear to help him get out, and the same message that John preached Jesus is preaching, and that’s probably not helping John’s cause.  On the other hand, the question might well have been asked from a very pure motive. Maybe they just wanted to know the honest answer to an honest question.


In verse 15 Jesus responds with a question of His own.  “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them”.   First of all notice the word mourn.  Fasting in Old Testament times was seen as an act of mourning, weeping in sackcloth’s and ashes for the sin of those fasting.  Fasting was normally a call to repent, and that is why Jesus associates the word fasting with mourning. 


Also notice the word “bridegroom”.  That speaks of Jesus.  We are the bride and He is the groom.  Jesus simply asks why would the people invited to a wedding mourn.  It’s normally a joyous occasion.


He continues by saying that there will come a time when the bridegroom will be taken away, and at the time the guests will fast.  The words “taken away” are important because that’s what happened to Jesus.  He didn’t just leave.  His Father took Him away into the clouds.  In one sense of the word sadness would come on the followers of Jesus as He disappeared into the clouds. And at that time they did spend much time in prayer and probably fasting as well as seen in Acts 1. This might well be a specific prophecy that came true in Acts 1 although most people think of this in general terms that Christians will fast from time to time.


In verse 16 Jesus says that no one sews an unshrunk patch, that’s a new patch, on old clothing.  The old clothes have already shrunk and when the clothes are washed and the new patch shrinks, it will pull away from the garment.  You might wonder why Jesus is saying this.  It might appear that He’s completely changing the subject and this has no relevance to what He just said.  But that’s not necessarily true. 


Jesus has just referred to Himself as the bridegroom and that He would not always be around. I’m sure those listening didn’t quite understand what He meant, but we do.  Jesus left this earth because His work on earth was complete and the Holy Spirit would come and join Himself to the believers and together would represent Jesus on earth as the “Body of Christ”.  The “Body of Christ” was brand new. Never was there such a thing in time past.  God had His people in Old Testament times, but in New Testament times He has a new people, and the new people is the Body of Christ, the church. 


True believers in New Testament times is represented by the new patch, while the old garment is the Jewish system of the Old Testament.  What Jesus is saying is that it is impossible for you to sew the new patch to the old garment.  This means it is impossible, it’s not God’s will, to join the New Covenant with the Old Covenant.  They are two separate identities and should remain separate.  Like oil and water, the two don’t mix and we shouldn’t try to mix them, but we do all the time.


In verse 17 Jesus gives another example of what He is saying.  He says that no one pours new wine into old wine skins because if they do, the old wineskins will eventually burst and the wine will spill.  Rather, people pour new wine into new wineskins. 


The old wineskins is the Jewish system.  The new wineskin is the Christian community.  The words “new wine” are often related to the Holy Spirit in the Bible.  Once again Jesus is saying that what’s gong to take place after He leaves is something altogether new and different and it should not be associated or connected to the past. Yet we mix Judaism with Christianity all the time.  We want to tithe.  We want to keep the Sabbath, and we want to do many things found in the Law of Moses.  Jesus is saying that we should not mix the two. 


A Dead Girl And A Sick Woman (ch. 9:18 - 26)


Verse 18 begins with “while He was saying this.  This is in reference to his short discourse on fasting.  So while Jesus was talking about fasting he was interrupted by a ruler who had a daughter that had just died. The Greek text is somewhat obscure on the verb tense here.  This girl was either almost dead or had just died, one or the other.


The text does not say whether the ruler was a gentile or a Jew. He could well have been a ruler in the Sanhedrin because of the use of the word ruler.


Also in verse 18 we see what this ruler requested of Jesus.  He told Jesus that if He’d come and lay His hand on his daughter that she’d live.  He didn’t say, come to life, or live again, as if she’d already died.  Whatever the case, this ruler believed that Jesus could heal his daughter. 


Verse 19 simply said that Jesus got up and went to see the rulers daughter and some of His disciples followed Him.  It doesn’t appear that Jesus hesitated.


“Just then” as Matthew puts it in verse 20, a woman who had a bleeding problem for 12 years came up and touched Jesus.  There were many desperate people who were following Jesus wanting to be healed.  This blood problem would have made this woman unclean as stated in the Law of Moses.  For this reason she should not have touched Jesus, and she should not have been in this crowd with the possibility of having someone touch her.  But she was desperate.  She wanted to be healed, and at that point obeying the Law didn’t matter to her.


 Verse 21 shows us the thinking of this woman.  She trusted Jesus sufficiently that she didn’t think she’d have to ask Him to heal her.  All she had to do in her thinking was to touch a piece of His clothes and she’d be all better. Once again, we see the faith and the trust people had in Jesus to heal them back then, and why not.  They seen others healed before their very eyes. 


In verse 22 we see Jesus turning around and telling the lady “to take heart”, meaning “cheer up”.   He then says “your faith has healed you”.  What does this mean?  Many people who today believe that all of us should be healed of all our illnesses by Jesus point to these words and other words like them.  They say, “it’s our faith that will heal us and if we aren’t healed, we don’t have enough faith.  Well, faith is not something that you can get more of, except in some occasions when faith is a gift of the Spirit as seen in 1 Cor. 12.  Faith is trust.  When Jesus said, “your faith has healed you”, what He was saying is “your trust you have in me has made it possible for you to be  healed.


Who or what really did the healing here?  Did her faith really heal her. Not really.  Jesus healed her because of her faith or trust.  But in actuality Jesus healed some people that had no faith.  Other’s had faith for the sick person.


It’s like this.  You’ve often heard people say, “prayer changes things’, and in one sense of the word they’re right in saying this.  But to be more accurate it’s not the prayer that really changes things.  It’s Jesus who changes things as a result of us praying.  It’s my opinion that we should give credit where credit is due.  Jesus heals, not our faith.  Jesus changes things, not our prayers.  The emphasis is on Jesus, not on us.


Matthew’s version of this healing of this woman is much shorter than the other gospel writers.  This event took longer than Matthew tells us.  Remember that Jesus was on his way to the rulers house to see his daughter.  If she hadn’t died prior to this, she might well have died during this delay. 


In verse 25 Jesus comes to the rulers home and sees a noisy crowd and flute players.  The noisy crowd would have been mourners.  Some mourners in those days were actually paid professional mourners.  We don’t know if this is the case here.  The flute players might well have been professional flute players who provided music when one dies. 


Jesus asked these people to leave because He told them that the girl wasn’t dead but only asleep.  Just why Jesus said it that way we don’t know for sure.  This girl might well have been asleep, but my guess is that she really was dead, but being dead or asleep to Jesus means nothing.  Death is not final with God as it is with us.  Death is only the passing from one form of life to another. 


In verses 25 and 26 we see that Jesus just took the girl by the hand and she got up and the news spread throughout the land.  We have no statement here that Jesus said anything, and once again, He doesn’t have to say a word to make someone better.


Jesus Heals The Blind And Mute  (ch. 9:27 - 34)


In verse 27 we see Jesus leaving the ruler’s house.  As was now the case, crowds always followed Jesus wherever He went.  In this case two blind men were calling out to Jesus.  They called, “have mercy on us, Son of David”.


The words “Son of David” is a direct reference to Jesus’ Messiahship.  These two men believed that Jesus was the Messiah, sent from God to the Jews.  They probably thought, as most people who did believe in Jesus being the Messiah, that Jesus would come and rescue the Jews from the Romans.


We see in verse 28 that Jesus didn’t heal these two men right away.  He asked them if they believed that He could heal them.  Jesus would know these men’s hearts.  He didn’t have to ask them for His benefit.  He probably asked them for their benefit.  They were the ones who were to confess that they trust Jesus and that they knew He could heal them. We don’t know the heart of Jesus and His thoughts concerning every person that came to Him for healing, and why He approached one person one way and another person another way.  It’s possible that these two men had slight doubts and just needed some re-affirming by their confession.  They would have heard about the miracles Jesus did, but they would  not have actually seen them so they might well have had some doubt.


The men simply responded by saying, “yes Lord”, or “yes master”.   By using the word “Lord” they recognize that Jesus was someone beyond the normal and that they highly respected Him. 


In verse 29 Jesus say, “according to your faith will it be done to you”. As in the last healing Jesus speaks of the person’s faith as being important in the healing process.  But once again, that presupposes that Jesus wanted to heal the person in the first place, and while Jesus was on earth it appears that He wanted to heal everyone that came to Him in faith. 


Again the idea here is this.  A blind person comes to Jesus believing He can make him see and Jesus heals him.  The person’s faith did not heal him.  Jesus healed him since the person trusted Him. 


In verse 30 Jesus tells these two men that they should tell no one about this, but in verse 31 they go about telling everyone anyway.  I’m not certain at this time why Jesus told these two men to keep this quiet.  We’ve seen Him say such things before as in the man healed of leprosy, but we know in that case the reason was that Jesus wanted the leper to go directly to the priest to be ceremonially cleaned.  Jesus doesn’t mention anything like that here.


In verse 32 and 33 Jesus is approached by a demon possessed man. The demon caused that man to not be able to speak.  He was mute. Demons can cause different problems with different people depending on what kind of demons they are.  Jesus cast the demon out of the man and the crowd was amazed.


One reason why the crowd was amazed beyond the miracle itself is that the Jewish leadership tried to drive demons out as well with no success, but Jesus had succeeded, something the Jewish leadership wasn’t all that happy about.  Jesus was showing them up.  He could do what they couldn’t.


So in verse 34 we see the Pharisees response to Jesus casting out demons.  They say that Jesus is in fact casting out demons by the power and authority of the devil.  Matthew does not comment on Jesus’ response to the Pharisees as the other gospel writers do. 


The Workers Are Few (ch. 9:35 - 38)


In verse 35 Matthew tells us that Jesus went through all the towns and villages preaching the gospel of the Kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.  There is estimated to be 214 towns and villages in Galilee at this time. No wonder Jesus got to be so popular.  History had not seen anyone like Him.  You should notice here that Jesus healed every sickness, not just some.


In verse 36 Matthew tells us that when Jesus saw the crowds “He had compassion on them”.  The Greek word for our English word “compassion” here is the word for “intestines”, that’s why the KJV uses the terms “bowls of compassion” sometimes.  The same word is used when Judas hung himself and his intestines exploded out all over the place. 


The love Jesus had for the crowds was not from His head, but from the depth of His bowls or intestines. This may not sound very nice to the western ear but this is what the culture of the day thought.  As our bowls release the waste in uncontrollable fashion, so the love of Jesus was released in an uncontrollable fashion. That is to say, the love of God just gushed out of Jesus beyond measure.


Verse 36 tells us why Jesus had such love for the crowds and it was because they “were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd”. If you picture sheep without a shepherd they are harassed by wolves. The wolves are the satanic powers.  Their shepherds were to be the Jewish leadership but they had forsaken the sheep, the people of God by following their own ambition. 


In verse 37 and 38 Jesus tells His followers that the harvest is plentiful but the harvesters are few and that they needed to pray to God to send people into the harvest.  We often see the harvest as people, and so they are.  But if you study the word harvest in the Bible as it relates to God and spiritual things you will notice the word “harvest” is always in reference to the end of this age where Jesus separates that sheep and the goats.  The goats, or the unbelievers are harvested along with the believers. The believers go to be with the Lord while the unbelievers go to the Lake of Fire . 


What Jesus is saying here is that we should pray to God that He send people to rescue them from the Lake of Fire . The picture here is that people are burning in the fire and that they need to be set free from the flames. 


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