The Kingdom Advances
“And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.” While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. And when Jesus came to the ruler’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. And the report of this went through all that district. And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” But they went away and spread his fame through all that district. As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.” And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”” (Matthew 9:1–38, ESV)
The healing of the paralyzed man shows the relationship between physical and spiritual healing. This incident sheds light on the truth that Jesus has the authority to forgive sin. Faith is the catalyst for the healing of this man. The religious leaders took offense at Jesus' statement because forgiving sins is a prerogative of God and it would most certainly be blasphemy if Jesus were not God. The healing serves as proof that Jesus has the authority ti forgive sins. The crowds were afraid, but they glorified God and recognized that this was his work.
The Tax Booth
The call of Matthew is important because it identifies the tax collector who would write this Gospel record. Matthew’s vocation was so deplorable that the call to follow Jesus is entirely unexpected. Tax collectors were local people who worked for the Romans. They manipulated people and the process making them some of the most despised members of the Jewish community. This is why the religious leaders were stunned to find Jesus eating with this separate category of sinner. Jesus hears this conversation and explains that who do not see the malady of sin but instead depend on religious works mistakenly think they are well. It is those sick with sin that Jesus came to call.
Questions From Other Disciples
John the Baptist's disciples are confused by the behavior of Jesus' disciples. Jesus had spoken on the subject of fasting during his sermon which naturally raised questions about why his disciples were not practicing this discipline. Jesus’ response is that it is not appropriate for the disciples to fast while he is with them. Jesus presence makes the practice of fasting out of place but the time was approaching when the Bridegroom would be taken away, and they would fast. The Christ has come which changes everything, and as he inaugurates the kingdom, some things are rendered obsolete.
The miracle stories continue with the healing of Jairus’ daughter and the woman with the discharge of blood. A ruler risked his reputation for the sake of his daughter and knelt before Jesus declaring that although his daughter had died, he believed that Jesus could bring her back to life. Jesus leaves with Jairus and while he is on the way a woman who had been afflicted for twelve years with a condition that rendered her unclean. This woman is bold and is commended for her faith. She reasons that just to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment will be enough to make her well. When Jesus arrives at Jairus' house, mourners have gathered to lament the passing of this young girl. Jesus tells the crowd to leave because the girl is only sleeping and they deride Jesus. Once the crowd has been put outside, Jesus takes the girl by the hand, and she arose. The symptoms of sin are sickness, disease, and death. Jesus has authority and power over them all.
The miracle of the healing of the blind men continues to identify Jesus. These men call out to the Son of David and ask for the restoration of their sight. This was the title used when Matthew introduced Jesus at the beginning of his gospel. Jesus is the royal Son advancing on the kingdom of darkness. Jesus asks them if they believe that he can do this for them, and they exclaim their confidence. He commends their faith and touching their eyes; he heals them. Jesus bids them remain quiet, but they spread his fame throughout the region.
The restoration of speech to the mute man gives affirmation to the glory and uniqueness of the work of Jesus. The crowds take note that nothing has been done like this before in Israel. The hostility and spite of the Pharisees drips through the accusation that Jesus himself must have a demon to deal with demons as he does. The argument is flawed, but the hatred is real, and the kingdom of darkness against which Jesus is advancing has unanticipated advocates and representatives in religious places.
Pray For Laborers
The kingdom advances as Jesus taught, proclaimed the gospel, and healed every disease and affliction. At this moment, Matthew captures the compassion of the king. He sees these people harassed and helpless, and he longs to see them healed and comforted. These sheep desperately need the good shepherd and most have yet to see their need. The chapter ends with a statement about the need for laborers to go into the harvest. Jesus tells his disciples that the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. They must pray earnestly that the Lord of the harvest would send laborers, and although they did not fully understand, they would be sent to join in the harvest.