In the next of the series of miracles performed by Jesus as recorded in Matthew 9:18-38, Jesus goes ‘one better’ than before…not only healing a blind man, delivering a demon possessed man, healing a woman suffering from a long term illness and raising a dead girl. However, the point of all these events is not for the sake of information but that we too might believe in Him. These verses also remind us why we should put faith in Him. It is because of the depth of His compassion for people – something that led Him all the way to the cross.
The text of Matthew 9:9-17 related a number of important events, beginning with the call that came from Jesus to Matthew (the writer of the gospel) to follow Him. This tax collector had no hesitation in leaving his old life behind to follow Jesus, and one of the immediate consequences of his decision to do that was seen in the meal hosted in his home at which many other ‘tax collectors and sinners’ were present. This prompted questions from the Pharisees and even from John’s disciples which Jesus was able to answer and put his grace and his coming into perspective.
Matthew 9:1-8 tells the story of the healing and the forgiveness that came to the paralyzed man. The fact that Jesus forgave the man (his first words to him were ‘Your sins are forgiven’) shows that this miracle was more than just another healing. Jesus saw that the man’s spiritual condition was more serious than his outward condition. And so to prove that Jesus was able to forgive the man’s sins (something invisible), He also brought healing to the man’s body (something that all could see) and so prove that He, as the Son of Man, could do both!
*The audio is not quite right for the first 20 secs or so, but be patient…it all comes good!
After recording some examples of the healing ministry of Jesus, in Matthew 8:28-34, Matthew tells of an encounter between Jesus and two demon-possessed men. Matthew had already told his readers of how Jesus had control over demons in both chapters 4 and 8, but this is the first real example of His power at work. And while the demons quickly recognised who Jesus was and what their ultimate destiny would be, Jesus kept his contact with them to a minimum. Matthew tells us that he just spoke one word to them and that was enough!
After Jesus began his public ministry with three miraculous healings, Matthew 8:18-27 records how would-be followers came to Him seeking to join His disciples. He responded to these requests by pointing out the cost of such commitment, demanding total allegiance to Him over everything and everyone. Then, taking while His disciples across the Sea of Galilee (to meet the demon possessed men of Matthew 9), in the boat which was about to sink, He pointed out to His disciples that to trust Him continually is vital.
After Jesus spoke the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Matthew’s Gospel then proceeds to display the things Jesus did (Matthew 8-10) interspersed with commands from Jesus to follow Him. Matthew 8:1-17 tells of three separate incidents in which the power of Jesus to heal was on show. What do we learn from these healings? And, what is Matthew telling us about Jesus?
In the account of Matthew 8:1-4, Matthew records how Jesus showed great compassion to a leper by touching him to heal him. Although the story contains only a small amount of information, it carries a great amount of significance for those who know they are also ‘unclean’ and therefore unworthy.
In Matthew 4, we read one of the most exciting passages; a master class in facing temptation. Like us, Jesus faced temptation. Unlike us – and everyone who has come before – he never fell into it. How should we respond?
Names are vital things, usually given because of the desire of the parents. In Matthew 1:23, we find out that God directed Joseph to name Mary’s baby ‘Jesus’. God must have had a plan and a purpose in providing such a name for His Son. What was it?
The world is full of all kinds of treasures – the earthly kind. When Jesus spoke in the Sermon on the Mount he challenged his disciples in Matthew 6:19-24 to invest in the right kind of treasure and not fall for the trap of earthly treasures.