Friday, April 25, 2008

Matthew, Chapter 9

In today’s reading we come of the first opposition to Jesus’ public ministry. Jesus was beginning to amass quite a following based on the miracles He was performing, but there were some who didn’t like the fact that He did not come to them first. We see the Pharisees begin to oppose Him here. I have always liked to refer to their attitude towards Christ one of, “You’re not quite what we’re looking for in a Messiah.” When you think about it, it is true. Jesus did not meet their preconceived notions of what the Messiah was supposed to be, so they opposed Him to the point of death. Instead of changing their view to what the Son of God really was, they expected Jesus to conform to their views. That becomes evident in chapter 9.

1Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven."
3At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!"
4Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? – Matthew 9:1-6

It is interesting to see the growing dynamic of faith at this point in Jesus’ ministry. Faith is the purpose of His ministry. We are saved only by grace through faith. I cannot imagine living in Jesus’ time and seeing even one of these miracles in person. In most cases, the news of His ministry was spread only by word of mouth, yet by faith others sought Him out for healing. There are five such instances in this chapter alone, and each time it someone coming by faith, having not personally witnessed Christ’s power, and being rewarded for that faith. This is the basis of our own faith as well, because we do not witness the power of Christ to forgive and cleanse us until we approach Him ourselves.

10While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. 11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"
12On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." – Matthew 9:10-13

As mentioned above, we begin to see opposition to Jesus’ ministry in this chapter. Clearly the Pharisees were not happy because He was not spending time with them. I love this section of Matthew perhaps above all other parts of Jesus’ ministry because it illustrates so much of His nature. It clearly illustrates that He came to forgive us of our sin, not to pander to those who thought they were already righteous. Jesus was not afraid to get His hands dirty and work with the people that needed Him the most. If He had gone to the Pharisees, Jesus knew His message would not reach the ears that needed to hear it. Only by going to the sinners and showing them their need for redemption, as well as the path to it, would He fulfill His mission. To me, that is what makes His ministry even more powerful.

35Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." – Matthew 9:35-38

This final section is a call to all of us. We all must be workers, seeking to spread the message of Christ as long as we can in order to continue His mission. It is my prayer that I do this, and that those I touch do this as well.


1. Why is it so hard on human terms to forgive sin?
2. Why didn’t Jesus work on both sides, with the Pharisees and the sinners?
3. How are you a shepherd?

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