THURSDAY, APRIL 6
SCRIPTURE: Matthew 9
There is so much to learn about Jesus in this chapter. I want to start with a statement made near the end of this chapter and then we will move back to the front of the chapter and cover as much ground as this space allows. The statement I want to begin with is found in verse 36: “When He (Jesus) saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
Jesus cares about people. And that care leads to compassion. Think about it this way. Sympathy is feeling sorry for someone. Empathy is expressing sorrow with someone because you have been where that person is. But compassion is something deep in us that moves us to intervene on behalf of someone. We see Jesus doing this throughout this chapter.
As the chapter opens, a paralytic is carried to Jesus by some friends. Interestingly, the Bible says Jesus saw the faith of the friends, not the faith of the paralytic but of his friends, and responded. We should never discount that value of having faithful friends who are people of faith. That paralytic walked home that day not necessarily because of his faith but because he had good friends of faith who went the extra mile to help him.
From there we get a quick look at Jesus calling Matthew to follow Him. Matthew did. What we miss in this story is how incredibly costly it was for Matthew to do that. He left a very lucrative job to follow Jesus. On his way out, he threw a party for some of his friends. You might have noticed that his friends weren’t necessarily Sunday School teachers. But Jesus was right in the big middle of them any way. Jesus never condoned sin. But He never shied away from hanging out with sinners. That hurt His reputation with the religious folks. But it sure did open the door for the rest of us to feel comfortable hanging out with Jesus.
It is about this time that there is a short pause in the narrative and Jesus teaches a great truth. He speaks in terms of putting a patch on some old, worn out clothes and putting new wine in an old wine skin. Since we Baptists don’t know anything about wine (wink, wink), I thought it might be helpful to unpack this a little bit.
Both comparisons, the patch on the old clothes and the new wine in an old wine skin, are really teaching the same principle. Jesus did not come to patch us up so that we would last a little longer. He came to bring something so radically new that nothing that had previously existed could contain it. The Gospel and the abundant, eternal life it promises is so amazingly powerful, the world had never experienced anything like it. Jesus was turning the religious world upside down and giving it a good shake. By the way, religious people don’t appreciate that sort of treatment. Nevertheless, Jesus came to bring new life. As the story of Matthew and friends indicates, this new life is not a funeral. It is a feast. It is not all doom and gloom. It is a party.
From there we are told about some more amazing miracles that Jesus performed to help some folks who were in a really bad way. Just remember, Jesus had compassion on those who were harassed and helpless. He still does.