Getting to Know Jesus: Matthew 9

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As we arrive in chapter 9 of Matthew, we continue to read about how Jesus interacts with people and handles opposition.

If you are just now joining in this study, you can read Getting to Know Jesus: Matthew 1 here.

We just left off at chapter 8 where Jesus was asked to leave the region of the Gadarenes for sending a demon from a man into a herd of pigs. If Jesus was powerful enough to stop the stormy sea in chapter 8, wasn’t He also powerful enough to know what kind of opposition was waiting for Him on the other side of the sea? Didn’t He know He would just have to turn around and leave?

But Jesus still went there.

He knew there was a need. He went toward the need.

Opposition was not strong enough to keep Him from healing somebody.

He knew those demon-possessed men needed exorcism that they could not do on their own. So He welcomed them when they approached. He wasn’t afraid of the rejection He knew He might face from others. He went where sickness and death awaited His healing power. I just love that.

Jesus always puts others above Himself.

In verses 1-8, Jesus leaves and crosses back over the sea. Just as He arrives, He is met by a group of guys who are carrying their paralyzed friend on a stretcher. This man needed healing. And he needed his friends to help him get to the place where he can be healed.

Jesus notices their faith. And He heals him.

I used to read this passage assuming that Jesus healed the man on behalf of his friends’ faith only.

But as I read this and think more about the logistics, the man must have also had a lot of faith to let his friends pick him up, put him on a stretcher, carry him away from his original location and then take him to this emerging teacher/healer who everybody was talking about. He had a say in what was happening. So his faith was on display as well. It wasn’t just his friends who had faith. He did too. And he was humble enough to let his friends help him by taking him to the one man they knew had healing power. He wasn’t afraid to ask for help. Jesus saw the collective effort of both the friends of the paralyzed man and the paralyzed man himself.

And “their” faith was rewarded through blessing the one who needed healing in that moment. How powerful.

In verse 2, notice that Jesus heals after “seeing their faith.”

In chapter 8, Jesus also healed a man after “hearing…[his] great faith.” So far, Matthew is revealing to the reader that when Jesus hears or sees a person’s faith, He acts. He answers. Jesus is aware of the faith manifested around Him by people. We will continue to see this as we read through Matthew. The word “faith” is used in Matthew’s gospel 13 times: 6:30, 8:10, 8:26, 9:2, 9:22, 9:29, 14:31, 15:28, 16:8, 17:20 (2x), 21:21, 23:23.

But Jesus also notices “little faith” as well. This phrase is used 5 times in Matthew’s gospel: 6:30, 8:26, 14:31, 16:8, 17:20.

And while Jesus points out “little faith,” He doesn’t call anyone out to condemn them but rather to teach them how to cultivate more faith and encourage them to believe. It is meant to be constructive not destructive.

In this chapter, “faith” is very significant because we are now starting to see how Jesus responds to a person’s faith: He heals and He forgives sin. We will see this play out in various scenes.

In verse 3, the scribes scowl at Jesus accusing Him of blaspheming for trying to forgive sins.

What I don’t understand is why the scribes are even there listening to Jesus if they don’t like Him. It seems they are trying to find fault in Him.

But Jesus confronts the scribes’ thoughts in verses 4-6 asking them “which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk?’ .” Before, I’ve never understood what Jesus was trying to say here. It never made sense to me that Jesus would admit it’s easier to say the thing that He didn’t say the first time. It’s obviously easier to say “Get up and walk,” even in Aramaic which is the language Jesus would have been speaking. So why would He use that as an argument for His rationale to choose to say “your sins are forgiven”?

But Jesus is a lot smarter. He’s pretty brilliant in fact. He knows what He’s doing. So at first, His logic can confuse me but as I read it I’m starting to see what He’s doing.

Jesus makes this argument to make a point.

He wants them to know that He said “your sins are forgiven” on purpose.

It doesn’t matter what’s most practical for Him to say. It doesn’t matter what makes sense for Him to say when He heals someone. Jesus acknowledges that it’s easier to say “Get up and walk.” He could have said that if he wanted to. But He didn’t want to say that.

Jesus says “your sins are forgiven” in verse 6 on purpose for the very reason that He states: “so you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins.”

Jesus just established His authority and power.

Matthew includes this story to let the reader know that Jesus can forgive sins. His audience of Jewish people would have been hesitant to accept this. They only believed that God, or Yahweh, could forgive sins. But now Matthew is revealing Jesus as the one who forgives. This is yet another clue for Matthew’s audience to believe Jesus is the Messiah they had been waiting for.

Also, now that we’ve already been introduced to Jesus’ power to heal in chapter 8, Matthew is beginning to associate not only faith with forgiveness of sins like we’ve seen in this chapter, but also healing with forgiveness of sins. So as we keep reading, we will make this connection. When Jesus heals, he also forgives. When Jesus interacts with a person who believes in Him and comes to Him for help, He will forgive sins. Healing is both physical and spiritual.

Matthew’s narration in verse 7-8 is very significant.

He illustrates the simple obedience of the paralyzed man to get up and walk, and the subsequent glory channeled to God because of it. The crowds are amazed that this paralyzed man got up and walked. And they immediately start praising God for “giving such authority to men”. Matthew doesn’t say that the crowds gave glory to Jesus – even though Jesus was indeed worthy. Rather, Matthew directs all the credit to God. Matthew is telling the reader here that Jesus brings God glory. Jesus is on God’s side. Jesus is not there to bring glory to Himself. He’s there to bring glory to God. So they too should align themselves with Jesus and bring glory to God.

I love verse 9 in this chapter.

We meet Matthew. And Matthew is so focused on making Jesus the primary character in his gospel that he doesn’t even give himself a long scene in his story. Nor does he talk about himself in the first person. He introduces his encounter with Jesus in the 3rd person saying, “He [Jesus] saw a man named Matthew…”. Matthew captures his conversion story in one verse. Jesus asks. He responds. Simple as that. This is quite powerful. Matthew could have taken more time to talk about his own experience with Jesus if he wanted to and it would have been fine. But this just shows Matthew’s heart in wanting to keep Jesus the focus. Matthew writes to reveal Jesus. And all other characters are meant point to Him and all that He has done.  Matthew was forever changed when He met Jesus. And it is evident in the way that he tells his story as well as this entire gospel.

In verses 10-13, Matthew immediately invites Jesus into his home. He couldn’t help himself. They eat a meal together along with the disciples and some of Matthew’s friends, mostly tax collectors.

And once again, Jesus faces opposition.

Almost every time Jesus accomplishes something good for the benefit of another, He faces opposition from those who are not on God’s side. This time, He experiences opposition from the Pharisees.

But something I noticed after doing this below part of this study is that the Pharisees didn’t oppose Jesus this time. This time, they went after His disciples. They asked His disciples why He was eating with “sinners.” That’s interesting. They didn’t even go to Jesus, the one they were attacking, but went after the more vulnerable ones. But Jesus heard. And He takes control. He responds.

And I love how Jesus responds to opposition.

He’s calm and He’s not easily shaken.

He responds differently to each. The Pharisees were well-read on the Old Testament scriptures, being Jewish religious elite. Jesus knew this. So He responds to them by telling them, “Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.” The italicized part is from a scripture in the Old Testament book of Hosea 6:6, which they would have been familiar with.

Jesus responds to their opposition by reminding them what they should already know.

They should already know that God is merciful and pursues people relentlessly just as is depicted in the book of Hosea. They shouldn’t be criticizing Him for pursuing “sinners.” If they knew the book of Hosea, they should have been excited to see Jesus pursuing sinners just like God illustrated through Hosea in that book.

He’s pointing to their hearts, ultimately. Just like he did in chapter 5. Revealing that their hearts are bad.

In verses 14-17, Jesus goes on to face more opposition. This time it is from John the Baptist’s disciples who ask Jesus why He and his disciples do not fast. Jesus knows that this is not malicious opposition.

It is really just a misunderstanding.

So Jesus explains to them why they do not fast by means of analogy, comparing his disciples to wedding guests and Himself to a groom. The wedding guests cannot be sad while the groom is with them just like there is no need to fast for the sake of seeking God when God in the flesh is right there with them. He uses two more analogies pointing to the reality that there is a new way of doing things because something new has come: Himself.

In verses 18-26, just as Jesus was talking to them regarding all of this, a man comes up to Him.

But Jesus doesn’t turn him away to continue talking. He stops what He was doing. And He listens.

As He listens, Jesus learns that this man’s daughter is very sick and about to die. But once again, this man believes that Jesus can heal as he says, “…but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” Jesus notices his faith. And He goes with the man to heal her.

But on the way, Jesus is interrupted again.

Quietly and unassuming, a woman who has been bleeding for 12 years comes up to touch the tassel on the back of His robe in verse 20. Matthew includes her words: “If I can just touch His robe, I’ll be made well.” What faith. I love how the ones who everyone else despised always felt safe approaching Jesus. Jesus welcomed everybody. He loved everyone the same. May we as well.

For this woman wasn’t about to let Jesus pass her by. She had enough faith to touch even just His robe, convinced that she would be healed forever.

Jesus notices. He heals her.

And again, Jesus points out this woman’s “faith” in verse 22 as He heals her.

So far in this chapter, Matthew has written the flow of the narrative with Jesus being interrupted a lot. But each time, Jesus makes time for that person. He wants to make time for that person. So Jesus takes time to heal this woman even when He was on the way to heal somebody else. And I love this pattern that Matthew illustrates. This pattern of action really reveals Jesus’ love in a way that mere words would not express.

Then Jesus continues on to the man’s house to heal his daughter.

And Matthew says that Jesus heals the girl with a touch in verse 25.

In chapter 8, Jesus also healed a woman with a touch. Healing touch is a repetitive occurrence in Matthew. As we progress we will also see others who are healed by Jesus’ touch. Jesus heals in this way 7 separate times in this gospel: 8:3, 8:15, 9:20-21, 9:29, 14:36, 17:7, 20:34.

In verses 27-31, Jesus heals 2 blind men with a touch also.

They had been following Jesus since He left from the house where He healed the man’s daughter. They must have heard about his healing power. And they believed in Him. In fact, they call Him “Son of David” in verse 27, saying, “Have mercy on us…” Matthew identified Jesus as the “Son of David” from the beginning in Matthew 1:1.But this is the first time we have read someone identifying Jesus as “Son of David.” And it’s a blind man who does it. Wow. How powerful.

It’s amazing that the blind men call Jesus “Son of David.” They are blind, yet they see far better than anyone else can at this point. This contrast of blindness and seeing will continue in this gospel. Most who see Jesus with their physical eyes cannot see Him for who He really is. They don’t yet get it. But the ones who are blind can actually see Jesus for who He is.

But what I don’t fully understand is why Jesus tells the men in verse 30 not to tell anyone that He healed them. He didn’t say this to the other people that He healed in this chapter. This one has stumped me and I just don’t know. If anyone wants to share insight please comment below. I would be glad to hear.

In verses 32-34, a demon-possessed man, unable to speak, is brought to Jesus.

Once again, we see someone who was brought to Jesus by others, just like the paralyzed man’s friends brought him to Jesus in verse 2. And Jesus heals him. He drives out the demon. Then the man is able to speak again. But the Pharisees criticize Jesus and ridicule His power, saying it must be “the power of demons that He drives out the demons.” But Matthew doesn’t record Jesus saying anything to the Pharisees about their opposition this time. Jesus moves on to many towns and villages..

Lastly in verses 35-38, chapter 9 ends with Matthew telling us about Jesus’ general travels going preach, teach and heal. Then Matthew tells us that Jesus “felt compassion” for the crowds when He saw them because they were “weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd.” So Jesus tells His disciples to pray for workers to be sent into the harvest. Jesus sees a need. And He asks for His disciples to pray. In the process, He’s teaching His disciples what it means to prioritize people, just like He does.

So many times in this chapter, Jesus is about to head somewhere and He is interrupted by people who need Him. So He stops. He doesn’t pass them by. He stops. He always puts others above Himself. I have really been moved by this while studying this chapter.

As we continue, let us enjoy this gospel as a story that is both teaching us about Jesus and showing us what it looks like to minister to people. And I pray our hearts will be open and receptive to God’s Word.

Summary of Matthew 9

Jesus leaves the region of the Gadarenes; Jesus heals a paralyzed men brought to Him by the man’s friends; Jesus’ faces opposition from the scribes; Jesus meets Matthew and asks Him to follow Him; Matthew follows Jesus and invites Him to his home for a meal; Jesus faces opposition from the Pharisees; Jesus is questioned by John the Baptist’s disciples regarding fasting; Jesus is met by a man who wants Jesus to heal his daughter; Jesus goes with him to heal her; Jesus is approached by a woman who touches His robe and He heals her; Jesus goes on to heal the man’s daughter; Jesus is followed by 2 blind men whom who heals; Jesus is met by a demon-possessed man who is brought to Him and He heals him; Jesus faces opposition from the Pharisees; Jesus is met by a demon-possessed man who is brought to Him and He heals him; Jesus faces opposition from the Pharisees; Jesus and His disciples go on to many other regions to preach, teach and heal.

Jesus in Matthew 9

Jesus leaves the place He had just arrived, the region of the Gadarenes (v. 1; 8:28)

Jesus gets into a boat to cross the sea (v. 1)

Jesus goes to His own town (v. 1)

Jesus is brought a paralyzed man by a group of men (v. 2)

Jesus sees their faith (v. 2)

Jesus acts (v. 2)

Jesus tells the paralyzed man to have courage (v. 2)

Jesus calls the paralyzed man “son” (v. 2)

Jesus tells the paralyzed man his sins are forgiven (v. 2)

Jesus is accused of blaspheming by the scribes (v. 3)

Jesus reads the scribes’ minds (v. 4)

Jesus knows what the scribes are thinking (v. 4)

Jesus addresses the scribes (v. 4)

Jesus asks them why they are thinking evil thoughts (v. 4)

Jesus asks them if it’s easier to say “your sins are forgiven” or to say “get up and walk” (v. 5)

Jesus is rhetorical (v. 5)

Jesus is smart (v. 5-6)

Jesus clarifies the reason He told the paralyzed man his sins were forgiven (v. 6)

Jesus wants all to know He has authority on earth to forgive sins (v. 6)

Jesus calls Himself “Son of Man” (v. 6)

Jesus addresses the paralyzed man (v. 6)

Jesus tells him to get up (v. 6)

Jesus tells him to pick up his stretcher (v. 6)

Jesus tells him to go home (v. 6)

Jesus’ words heal the paralyzed man (v. 7)

Jesus amazes the crowds (v. 7)

Jesus causes the crowds to give glory to God (v. 8)

Jesus is acknowledged as being given authority by God (v. 8)

Jesus keeps travelling (v. 9)

Jesus sees Matthew (v. 9)

Jesus sees Matthew’s occupation (v. 9)

Jesus initiates conversation with Matthew (v. 9)

Jesus doesn’t judge Matthew for being a tax collector (v. 9)

Jesus wants Matthew (v. 9)

Jesus asks Matthew to follow Him (v. 9)

Jesus’ invitation is accepted by Matthew (v. 9)

Jesus sees potential in people (v. 9)

Jesus is now in Matthew’s house (v. 10)

Jesus reclines at a table in Matthew’s house (v. 10)

Jesus eats with Matthew and many other tax collectors and “sinners” (v. 10)

Jesus’ disciples are also there with Him (v. 10)

Jesus and His disciples are the guests in Matthew’s home (v. 11)

Jesus’ disciples are questioned by the Pharisees for eating with them (v. 11)

Jesus hears (v. 12)

Jesus reminds them that the sick are the ones who need a doctor (v. 12)

Jesus offers a challenge to the Pharisees (v. 13)

Jesus reminds them of Hosea 6:6 (v. 13)

Jesus tells them to learn what that scripture means (v. 13)

Jesus illuminates the gap between their knowledge and practice (v. 13)

Jesus declares He came to call sinners to repentance, not those who think they’re righteous (v. 13)

Jesus is questioned by John the Baptist’s disciples for not fasting (v. 14)

Jesus asks if the wedding guests can be sad when the groom is with them (v. 15)

Jesus prophecies about the day when the groom will be taken away from them (v. 15)

Jesus uses this analogy to talk of Himself (the groom) and His disciples (wedding guests) (v. 15)

Jesus says that they will fast when He has been taken away from them (v. 15)

Jesus’ presence makes fasting not necessary (v. 15)

Jesus teaches no one patches a garment with unshrunk cloth (v. 16)

Jesus explains why (v. 16)

Jesus teaches no one puts new wine in old wine skins (v. 17)

Jesus explains why (v. 17)

Jesus teaches new wine is put into new wine skins and both are preserved (v. 17)

Jesus is interrupted by someone who needs Him (v. 18)

Jesus is approached by one of the synagogue leaders to heal his daughter (v. 18)

Jesus and His disciples go with the man to his daughter (v. 19)

Jesus is interrupted again on the way there (v. 20)

Jesus is approached by a woman whose been bleeding for 12 years (v. 20)

Jesus is touched on the back tassel of His robe by this woman (v. 20)

Jesus was sought after by this woman (v. 20-21)

Jesus was seen as a healer by this woman (v. 21)

Jesus turns around (v. 22)

Jesus pauses (v. 22)

Jesus sees the woman (v. 22)

Jesus makes time for this woman (v. 22)

Jesus doesn’t get mad at her for interrupting where He was going (v. 22)

Jesus cares (v. 22)

Jesus shows compassion (v. 22)

Jesus tells her to have courage (v. 22)

Jesus tells the woman her faith has healed her (v. 22)

Jesus heals that very moment (v. 22)

Jesus continues on with the man who needs his daughter healed (v. 23)

Jesus arrives at the man’s house (v. 23)

Jesus observes the grief (v. 23)

Jesus sees flute players (v. 23)

Jesus sees a crowd lamenting loudly (v. 23)

Jesus tells them to leave (v. 24)

Jesus declares that the girl is not dead (v. 24)

Jesus says she is sleeping (v. 24)

Jesus is laughed at (v. 24)

Jesus has the crowd put outside (v. 25)

Jesus enters the house (v. 25)

Jesus takes the girl by the hand (v. 25)

Jesus’ touch makes the girl get up (v. 25)

Jesus heals (v. 25)

Jesus’ healing of the girl spread as news throughout the whole area (v. 26)

Jesus is followed by 2 blind men just as He is leaving (v. 27)

Jesus is called “Son of David” by these blind men (v. 27)

Jesus approached by the 2 blind men (v. 28)

Jesus asks them if they believe that He can heal (v. 28)

Jesus is told by them that they do believe (v. 28)

Jesus touches their eyes (v. 29)

Jesus says let it be done according to your faith (v. 29)

Jesus notices faith (v. 29)

Jesus heals (v. 30)

Jesus opens their eyes (v. 30)

Jesus warns them not to tell anyone that He healed them (v. 30)

Jesus’ healing of the blind men spreads throughout the area anyways (v. 31)

Jesus and His disciples start to travel from there (v. 32)

Jesus is brought a demon-possessed man who was unable to speak (v. 32)

Jesus drives out the demon (v. 33)

Jesus’ healing causes the man to speak again (v. 33)

Jesus amazes the crowds (v. 33)

Jesus is despised by the Pharisees (v. 34)

Jesus is polarizing (v. 34)

Jesus starts to travel (v. 35)

Jesus goes to all of the towns and villages teaching in their synagogues (v. 35)

Jesus goes to all of the towns and villages preaching the good news of the kingdom (v. 35)

Jesus goes to all of the towns and villages healing (v. 35)

Jesus sees the crowds (v. 36)

Jesus has compassion on them (v. 36)

Jesus sees that they are weary (v. 36)

Jesus sees that they are worn out (v. 36)

Jesus sees that they are like sheep without a shepherd (v. 36)

Jesus addresses His disciples (v. 37)

Jesus tells His disciples that they harvest is abundant but the workers are few (v. 37)

Jesus tells His disciples to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest (v. 38)

Jesus encourages prayer (v. 38)

“As Jesus went out from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office, and He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ So he got up and followed Him.”

–Matthew 9:9 –

Questions for Today:

  • Why can Jesus forgive sins when He heals people?
  • What can I learn from the way that Jesus handles opposition?
  • What is significant about Jesus noticing people’s faith?
  • What can I learn from Jesus’ example of putting others’ needs above His own?
  • How do we meet the author of this gospel in this chapter and what’s significant about his story?
  • How am I getting to know Jesus better in Matthew chapter 9?

“I Found You” by Anthony Evans

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