Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man
A few men brought a paralyzed man to Jesus and seeing their faith, He said to the paralyzed man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Immediately the teachers of the law tagged Jesus as a blasphemer. Jesus, knowing their thoughts said, why are you entertaining evil thoughts in your hearts and asked them a question,
Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?Matthew 9:5
Jesus wanted them to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive their sins. He told the paralyzed man to take his mat and go home and the man obeyed. The crowd as usual was left awestruck and praised God for the authority given to Jesus.
Jesus tried to make a point that healing of the inner body is more important than the outward appearance. Jesus knew that the paralyzed man needed forgiveness more than physical healing and went on to provide him that first.
And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.Matthew 5:30
Jesus also made sure everyone knew that He is the Son of Man who had been provided with the authority of forgiveness of sins on this earth.
Now we can either be like this paralyzed man and his friends who kept their faith in Jesus and accepted what was provided by God or we can be like the teachers of the law to continue to find faults in His teachings and actions.
The Calling of Matthew
Matthew who was also called Levi was a tax collector and while he was on the job, Jesus asked him to follow Him and he immediately got up and followed. This shows his obedience.
Matthew hosted dinner at his house and invited many tax collectors and sinners along with Jesus and His disciples. The pharisses (considered the tax collectors to be the worst sinners) were not able to digest the fact that Jesus was eating with the tax collectors and sinners. Jesus asked His disciples
“It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”Matthew 9:12-13
Jesus clearly states His reason for coming to this sinful earth, that we sinners needed Him. Jesus said ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice’, He wants us who know Him to spread His love to others who need Him rather than burdening them with rituals and traditions.
Matthew might have probably known about Jesus or seen or heard Jesus before and when Jesus called him, he readily accepted. Not only that, he also invited his colleagues and friends to a gathering with Jesus so that they may also experience what he experienced. Do we keep Jesus limited to to our church friends or do we invite our colleagues and other friends too to taste the love of God?
Jesus Questioned About Fasting
John’s disciples came and asked Jesus, why do your disciples not fast when they and the pharisees did.
Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.Matthew 9:15
Why will the disciples fast when Jesus was with them. The pharisses never accepted Jesus to be God and hence continued their fasts as a tradition to please God and not understand the reason behind it.
“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”Matthew 9:16-17
Jesus gave two examples, one of a piece of garment and the other of wineskins. When a new patch of garment is sown on the old garment then the new garment shrinks and worsens the tear, ruining the very garment it was meant to patch. Similarly using an old wineskin for new wine or the other way round will burst the wineskin, spilling the contents.
Jesus tried to teach them to let the new beliefs be for the new believers and the old remain with the old believers. Jesus wanted to teach them that forcing old traditions on the new believers will ruin their beliefs. Like wanting a new believer to start fasting or making them change their names. This will actually drive them away from God rather than bringing them closer to God and we will be answerable to God for driving them away from Him.
In Acts we see how the new believers were asked to circumcise and follow the age old Jewish tradition, but that is not want God wanted for them especially when a new covenant was established between us and Him by the death of His Son on the cross. We need to bring people closer to God and let God work in their lives.
Jesus Raises a Dead Girl and Heals a Sick Woman
A synagogue leader came to Jesus and knelt before Him and asked Him to come and put His hand on his daughter who had just died so she can live. Jesus left with him along with His disciples.
On their way, a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years came behind and touched Jesus’s cloak and thought to herself that she will be healed by her act.
Women in such a condition were considered unclean (Leviticus 15:25) and were not allowed to move outside freely. Twelve years was a very long time and this woman might not have wanted others to notice her and perhaps felt that touching His cloak would heal her discreetly.
Jesus saw her faith and healed her immediately. He openly healed her so that she could be accepted back into the society and not continue to live as an outcast. He also called her ‘daughter’, embracing her into His family, just as He has embraced each one of us.
Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.Matthew 9:22
The healing of this ‘daughter’ might have increased the synagogue leader’s faith as he, Jesus and Jesus’ disciples moved towards his house. On entering his house, they heard noise and people playing pipes, usually done when someone has passed away.
Jesus told them that the girl is not dead but asleep and the people there just started laughing at Him. The crowd had to be put outside before any work could be done as faithlessness will not give way for God’s work. Jesus took the girl by the hand and she got up and the news spread in the entire region.
How much faith do we have? Are we like the noisy crowd to laugh at His plans or are we like the synagogue leader to keep his faith on God even when everything around us tempts us to move our eyes away from God?
Jesus Heals the Blind and the Mute
Two blind men followed Jesus and said, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”. They probably knew who Jesus was or perhaps had heard about Him. Jesus asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”, and they replied saying ‘Yes’. Jesus touched their eyes and said “According to your faith let it be done to you” and they could see.
Jesus asked them not to tell this to anyone but they went and spread the news. Why did Jesus ask them not to let anyone know? It could probably be that Jesus did not want people to come to Him just for healing or perhaps His time had not yet come.
As they were going out, a mute man who was demon-possessed was brought to Jesus. Jesus drove out the demon and the man began to speak and everyone was amazed saying “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”
While the crowd was amazed, the pharisees once again could not believe their eyes and said, “It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons.” It was right in front of their eyes but their hearts were so hardened that they were ready to equate Jesus to the demon.
Many a times we also harden our hearts so much that in spite of seeing God working in our lives, we refuse to accept His word and give way to the evil one to work in our lives. God is always there but it is up to us if we want to let Him work in our lives.
The Workers Are Few
Jesus continued His ministry going through towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news and healing. Jesus had compassion on seeing the crowds because they were harassed and helpless like a sheep without a shepherd.
The people chosen to proclaim the good news of the kingdom and His love were busy following traditions and burdening the people with rules and regulations and failed to do their work. We are now the shepherds who have tasted the love of God and should let the others know of that love.
Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”Matthew 9:37-38
Jesus told His disciples that the harvest is plentiful, there are so many souls that need to know God but the workers are not enough. Are we ready to be His worker and be sent out? Are we ready to fulfill the purpose for which we are placed on this earth?
Let us examine ourselves to see if we have faith like the paralyzed man and his friends; the synagogue leader; the woman who was healed; and the blind men or are we like the noisy crowd or the pharisees who neither have faith themselves but also discourage the others from coming closer to God?