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Chapter 9


Jesus has Authority to Forgive Sin

9:1 After getting into a boat he crossed to the other side and came to his own town.


After casting out the demons from the men of Gadara, Jesus did what the people of the town asked him. He got back into the boat and went to Capernaum, where he seems to have been residing with Peter (Matt. 4:13; Matt. 8:14).


9:2 Just then some people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Have courage, son! Your sins are forgiven."


As he arrived some people brought to him a man on a stretcher who was paralysed. Jesus saw how much faith that they (and also the paralytic man) had, but said the most unexpected thing. Firstly, he encouraged the man to recognise himself as a "son" (teknon - the word used for child or young son), for we are all little children to God. Next, Jesus told the man that his sins were forgiven. Jesus knew, of course, that the man was paralysed, but he realised that the greatest need he had was of forgiveness; it is the greatest need we all have.


9:3 Then some of the experts in the law said to themselves, "This man is blaspheming!"


Some of the teachers of the religious law reacted immediately; for they knew that only God could forgive sin, and regarded Jesus as nothing but an ordinary man. Therefore, in their minds, he was blasphemer.


9:4 When Jesus saw their reaction he said, "Why do you respond with evil in your hearts?


Jesus knew what they were thinking (Heb. 4:12) and so addressed them, asking why they had such evil thoughts in their hearts.


9:5 Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven' or to say, 'Stand up and walk'?


Neither of these two things is easy to do as far as man is concerned. Not one of Christ’s opponents could heal the man or forgive his sin. By his atoning death on the cross Jesus has provided both forgiveness for sin and healing. In this sense, forgiving our sins was not easy for the Son of God, for only by his taking our sin on himself could our sin be forgiven. (1 Peter 1:18-19; 1 Cor. 7:23).


9:6-7 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" – then he said to the paralytic – "Stand up, take your stretcher, and go home." And he stood up and went home.


In order to prove to them that Jesus, the Son of Man had the authority on earth to forgive sins, he demonstrated it by turning to the man and telling him to get up, pick up his bed and go home. And that is exactly what he did.


9:8 When the crowd saw this, they were afraid and honoured God who had given such authority to men.


When the people saw what Jesus had done they were filled with awe and gave praise to God that he should have given such authority to a man. Although they attributed this miracle to God they still considered Jesus to be just another man and not God manifest in the flesh.


Jairus' Daughter Raised from the Dead and the Woman with the Issue of Blood

9:18 As he was saying these things, a ruler came, bowed low before him, and said, "My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her and she will live."


The ruler is not named here as he is in other gospels. It is Jairus the ruler of the synagogue in Capernaum. He initially comes to Jesus as his only child, a girl of twelve, is lying at the point of death (Luke 8:41-42). Jairus had faith that Christ could heal his daughter while she lived (Mark 5:22-23); and it was while he sought the help of Jesus that news reached him via his servants that his little girl had actually died. Jesus then challenges Jairus to keep on believing and she would live again (Mark 5:35-36). Matthew condenses this whole situation into one sentence.


9:19-21 Jesus and his disciples got up and followed him. But a woman who had been suffering from a haemorrhage for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak; for she kept saying to herself, "If only I touch his cloak, I will be healed."


As Jesus and his disciples went on their way with Jairus to his house, a woman came up behind him, no doubt pushing her way through the crowd. She had suffered with a gynaecological problem which meant that the bleeding from her womb was continuous, and had been so for twelve years. Such was her faith in Christ's power to heal that she said, "I have only to touch the hem of his cloak to be healed, and indeed she was. She was naturally modest about her situation and did not wish her condition or her healing to be made public.


9:22 But when Jesus turned and saw her he said, "Have courage, daughter! Your faith has made you well." And the woman was healed from that hour.


The woman had hoped to be healed without being noticed, but one can never go unnoticed as far as Jesus is concerned. He encouraged her to tell her story, as a testimony to God's goodness (Mark 5:33), and reassured her that because of her faith, she was fully and truly healed.


9:23-24 When Jesus entered the ruler's house and saw the flute players and the disorderly crowd, he said, "Go away, for the girl is not dead but asleep." And they began making fun of him.


On arriving at Jairus’ house, Jesus and his disciples found a crowd of relatives, friends and neighbours gathered to mourn the dead girl. In hot eastern countries, funerals must take place quickly, because of decay. They mourned in the traditional way, with doleful music. Can you imagine anyone entering a funeral and telling the relatives not to worry, for their dead loved one is not dead but only asleep? The words "laughed at him" or "made fun of him" are really too weak. The word derided is more correct. The reaction of the crowd was intensely hostile.


9:25 But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and gently took her by the hand, and the girl got up.


The crowd were persuaded to leave for a time, possibly by Jairus, (though Christ's authority would have been sufficient to compel them to leave, had he chosen to do so). In this way the Lord was given an opportunity to do his work.


Notice that Christ did not call on God or even pray for the girl. He himself is the resurrection (John 11:25) with power over life and death (Rom. 14:9). He took her by the hand and summoned her spirit back from the world of the dead, with the words recorded by Mark in Aramaic "Talitha Kumi" which mean ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up" (Mark 5:41).


9:26 And the news of this spread throughout that region.


Mark tells us that he allowed only Peter, John and James with him into the child's bedroom, together with her father and mother. Yet no one can keep secret a dead girl being brought back to life. Such an occurrence shook the entire region.


Few Workers

9:35 Then Jesus went throughout all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and sickness.


Christ's purpose was to reach the whole population of Israel with the gospel, and so he would not be confined to one geographic location. He travelled as an itinerant preacher, preaching the gospel and teaching the word of God in every synagogue throughout the entire region. As he went he healed every kind of sickness and disease as part of his ministry.


9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were bewildered and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.


As huge crowds turned out to meet him and be healed of their sicknesses, Christ the good shepherd had compassion on them, for without him they were without a shepherd (a guide to tend, bless and care for them). Our greatest motivation in ministry and evangelism is not the fact that people are going to hell, but the desire we have for them to know our wonderful blessed Saviour. Jesus shares this desire.


9:37 Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest."


God has a great work to do. His harvest is the gathering of men to himself from every tribe and nation. People coming to know and worship God through his son Jesus Christ. This work cannot be done by a small group of individuals. There is a world to be reached. Pray that the lord of the harvest, which is God, will send or thrust out labourers into his harvest. Sometimes God needs to thrust us out, or we would never go. The work of preaching and teaching the gospel of Christ is a labour - the word means toil - it is hard and often discouraging work.


If a man turns up unprepared for a Sunday school class, and doesn't know what he will teach the children, or what activity they will do, then he ought not to be surprised if there is not a result. Paul says “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Tim. 4:5). God requires hard work. Of Pastors teaching the word he employs the phrase "the hard working ox should not be muzzled as it treads out the corn" (1 Tim. 5:17-18). Again, work is involved. Let us not be afraid of such hard work for the master, nor let us accuse hard working ministers of relying on their own efforts rather than on God; for the harder a man works, the greater his revelation of Christ (see Paul’s claim to work “harder than they all” in 1 Cor. 15:10). There is no room for the lazy in the kingdom of God.


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This Bible study is taken from Faithbuilders: The Gospel of Matthew


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