Matthew 9: Purpose of Healings

430 matthaeus 9 purpose of healingMatthew 9, like most of the other chapters of the Gospel of Matthew, reports on various events in the life of Christ. This is not just a disorderly collection of reports - Matthew sometimes adds history to history because it is a wonderful complement. By means of physical examples spiritual truths are shown. In chapter 9, Matthew has summarized a number of stories that can also be found in the Gospel of Mark and Luke - but the teachings of Matthew are much shorter and more concise.

The authority to forgive sins

When Jesus returned to Capernaum, "they brought [a few men] to him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, "Be assured, my son, your sins are forgiven you" (V 2). In faith, the men had brought him to Jesus to heal him. Jesus dedicated himself to the paralytic, because his biggest problem was not his paralysis, but his sins. Jesus first took care of it.

"And, behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, 'This one is blaspheming God' (V 3). They thought only God can forgive sins, Jesus takes out too much.

"But when Jesus saw their thoughts, he said, Why do you think so evil in your hearts? What is easier to say: Your sins are forgiven, or to say: Get up and walk around? But to know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth, he said to the paralytic, "Get up, pick up your bed and go home! And he got up and went home "(V 5-6). It's easy to talk about divine forgiveness, but it's hard to prove that it really came to pass. Therefore, Jesus performed a miracle of salvation to show that he had the authority to forgive sins. His mission on earth was not to cure all human beings of their physical illnesses; he did not even cure all the sick in Judea. His mission was above all to announce the forgiveness of sins - and that he was the source of forgiveness. This miracle was not meant to proclaim physical healings but, more importantly, spiritual healing. "When the people saw this, they were afraid and praised God" (V 8) - but not everyone was pleased.

Eating with sinners

After this incident "he saw [a] man sitting at the customs, his name was Matthew; and he said to him, Follow me! And he got up and followed him "(V 9). The fact that Matthew was at customs suggests that he levied customs duties on people who were transporting goods through an area - perhaps even fishermen who brought their catch to the city to sell it. He was a customs officer, a toll collector and a "street robber" commissioned by the Romans. Yet he left his lucrative job to follow Jesus, and the first thing he did was to invite Jesus to a feast with his friends.

"And it came to pass, when he sat at table in the house, behold, there came many publicans and sinners, and sat at table with Jesus and his disciples" (V 10). That would be like a pastor going to a party in a fancy mafia mansion.

The Pharisees observe the kind of society Jesus was in, but they did not want to approach him directly. Instead, they asked his disciples, "Why does your Master eat with the tax collectors and sinners?" (V 11b). The disciples may have looked at each other puzzled and finally Jesus answered: "The strong do not need the doctor, but the sick". But go and learn what that means (Hosea 6,6): "I have mercy on mercy and not sacrifice" , "I have come to call the sinners and not the righteous" (V 12). He had the authority to forgive - here was a spiritual healing.

Just as a doctor cares for the sick, so did Jesus minister for the sinners because they were the ones he came to help. (Every person is a sinner, but that's not what Jesus is here for.) He called people to be holy, but he did not ask them to be perfect before calling them. Because we have grace so much more needed than the judgment, God wishes us to practice more mercy than to judge others. Even if we do everything God made (sacrifice, for example) but fail to let mercy over others, then we have failed.

The old and the new

The Pharisees were not the only ones who wondered about Jesus' ministry. The disciples of John the Baptist asked Jesus, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast so much and your disciples fast not?" (V 14). They fasted because they suffered because the nation was so far from God.

Jesus answered, "How can the wedding guests suffer as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken from them; then they will fast "(V 15). There is no reason while I am here, he said - but he implied that he would eventually - by force - "be taken from them" - then his disciples would suffer and fast.

Then Jesus gave them an enigmatic proverb: "No one mends an old dress with a rag of new cloth; because the cloth rips off the dress again and the crack gets worse. One does not fill new wine in old tubes; otherwise the hoses will tear and the wine will spill and spoil the hoses. But one fills new wine in new tubes, so both stay together "(V 16-17). Certainly Jesus did not come to "repair" the Pharisees' ordinances on how to lead a godly life. He did not try to add grace to the sacrifices prescribed by the Pharisees; he also did not try to introduce new ideas into the existing rules. Rather, he started something completely new. We call it the New Covenant.

Raising the dead, healing the impure

"When he said this to them, behold, one of the leaders of the church came, and fell down before him, saying, My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand upon her, and she will come to life." (V 18) , Here we are dealing with a very unusual religious leader - one who completely trusted Jesus. Jesus went with him and raised the girl from the dead (V 25).

But before he got to the girl's house, another person approached him to be healed: "And behold, a woman who had the blood flow for twelve years approached him from behind and touched the hem of his robe. For she spoke to herself: If only I could touch his robe, I would be well. Then Jesus turned around and saw her and said: "Rest assured, my daughter, your faith has helped you. And the woman became healthy at the same hour "(V 20-22). The woman was impure because of her blood flow. The law of Moses did not allow anyone to touch them. Jesus had a new course of action. Instead of avoiding her, he healed her when she touched him. Matthew puts it in a nutshell: faith had helped her.

Faith had caused the men to bring their paralyzed friend to him. Faith motivated Matthew to give up his job. Faith led a religious leader to ask for the raising of his daughter, a woman to heal her blood, and blind people to ask Jesus to see (V 29). There were all kinds of suffering, but a source of healing: Jesus.

The spiritual meaning is clear: Jesus forgives sins, gives new life and a new direction in life. He makes us clean and helps us to see. This new wine was not poured into the old rules of Moses - for a separate work has been created. The mission of grace is central to the ministry of Jesus.

by Michael Morrison


pdfMatthew 9: Purpose of Healings