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Matthew 9




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.  

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Matthew 8





SCRIPTURE: Matthew 8

Chapters 8 and 9 really are a single unit in this Gospel.  The two chapters provide a record of ten different miracles.  Have you ever wondered why Jesus performed miracles?  One reason is Jesus really cares about people.  So, He often used His power to bring incredible benefit to others even while He was doing without.  Another reason is Jesus’ miracles is one of the ways He proved His identity.  Miracles are not the only evidence of His divine identity.  There are others in the Bible who performed miracles.  2 Thessalonians 2:9 suggests that even Satan can perform “miracles”.  But Jesus’ ability to perform miracles coupled with His character and conduct are inarguable evidence of who He is.  

Let’s look at some of the miracles He performed.

The first one in chapter 8 involved a man who was a leper.  Since we are not real familiar with leprosy, it might be helpful to give you a little background.  Leprosy was a horribly contagious, usually incurable, fatal disease.  It was so feared in the days that Jesus walked on the earth, that there were leper colonies for lepers to live in away from others.  And if a leper ever “came to town”, he had to continually shout “Unclean” to give others the opportunity to create a lot of space between them and the infected one.

In this story, the leper violates that rule.  He walks right up to Jesus, kneels, and asks for healing.  Then Jesus violated a huge rule.  He touched that leper.  Nobody did that.  Ever.  That was a sure fire way to catch leprosy.  Now Jesus was ceremonially unclean.  But the man was miraculously clean.  

In Isaiah 1, the Bible uses leprosy as an illustration for sin.  So, if you apply that illustration to this story, Jesus comes to take away the sin of this man.  That’s pretty cool.

The next miracle had to do with a Centurion’s servant who was paralyzed.  A Centurion was a Roman army officer with responsibilities for at least 100 people.  For the religiously elite folk in Israel, having anything to do with a Roman soldier was almost as bad as intentionally touching a leper.  But that didn’t hinder Jesus.  After an interesting conversation with the Centurion, Jesus simply spoke the word and servant was healed.

The third miracle had to do with Peter’s mother-in-law.  She was sick with a fever.  Here’s a little reminder for you.  The religiously elite folks in Israel didn’t have a lot to do with women either.  In fact, women were second class citizens at best.  And no self-respecting Jew would physically touch a woman he was wasn’t married to.  But Jesus touched this woman and she was immediately healed.

So, what are we to learn from these three miracles?  Obviously, we are to learn that Jesus can indeed perform miracles.  Secondly, we are to learn that Jesus can perform miracles however He wants to (speaking and touching are two examples here).  Third, Jesus was not about to allow a misguided, self-righteous religion stop Him from meeting people at the point of their need.

Jesus came to this earth to seek and to save.  But He is also the Great Physician come to put the broken back together, to give sight to the blind, to give hearing to the deaf, to give liberty to the oppressed, to breathe life back into the dead.

Praise God that Jesus was unwilling to let unnecessary religious ritual stop Him from doing what needed to be done.  May we always hold the needs of people above any restrictions of man-made religion.

Posted by Joe Ligon with