Saturday, January 28, 2023

A Study of Matthew - Chapter 9


by Stan Feldsine (

Matthew 9:1-8 - Your Sins Are Forgiven

Mat 9:1-8 Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. (2) Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven." (3) At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!" (4) Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? (5) Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? (6) But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins." So he said to the paralyzed man, "Get up, take your mat and go home." (7) Then the man got up and went home. (8) When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.

This event is another notable milestone in the ministry of Jesus. Jesus had been healing and delivering people and was attracting large crowds of followers. In the healing of the leper in the previous chapter, Jesus threw a grenade in the laps of the religious leaders when He commanded the healed leper to go to the religious leaders and have them confirm his healing according to the law. That event causes the religious leaders to begin an investigation into what Jesus was doing.

When Jesus crossed over to His own town, the scribes and Pharisees were with the crowd when Jesus arrived and were in attendance investigating when Jesus healed the paralytic. Interestingly, these Pharisees had come from quite a ways away, from all over the country, from "every village".

Luk 5:17 One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick.

Mat 9:3 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!"

As Jesus is teaching, the paralytic's four friends lowered their friend down to Jesus, and Jesus makes remarks about the faith of the four friends.

Remarkably, with an audience of many Pharisees and scribes, Jesus tells the man his sins are forgiven. Jesus was quite aware that this statement would raise the attention of the religious leaders, and indeed, they accused Him of blasphemy.

Luk 5:20-21 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven." (21) The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, "Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"

The background for this comes from the description of atonement in Leviticus 4-6. The passage details the conditions for the forgiveness of sins, and it is clear from the Hebrew language that the one providing the forgiveness in God Himself, with the priests only facilitating it.

Lev 4:19-20 He shall remove all the fat from it and burn it on the altar, (20) and do with this bull just as he did with the bull for the sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for the community, and they will be forgiven.

Lev 4:26 He shall burn all the fat on the altar as he burned the fat of the fellowship offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for the leader's sin, and he will be forgiven.

Lev 5:10 The priest shall then offer the other as a burnt offering in the prescribed way and make atonement for them for the sin they have committed, and they will be forgiven.

Lev 5:13 In this way the priest will make atonement for them for any of these sins they have committed, and they will be forgiven. The rest of the offering will belong to the priest, as in the case of the grain offering.'"

Only God can forgive sins. The people brought the offerings to the priests, the priests facilitated the offerings, and God forgave sins accordingly.

Isa 43:25 "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.

Isa 55:6-7 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. (7) Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

When Jesus made the statement, "your sins are forgiven you", He was assuming the role that only God had as the one who could forgive sins. When Jesus used that phrase, He was implicitly claiming to be God, and that is why the religious leaders accused Him of blasphemy. Only God could forgive sins.

Hendrickson: "Only He [God] knows what is going on in the heart of man, whether or not He has truly repented. Basically, therefore, no one else has the right and the power to grant absolution. The scribes were right in considering the remission of sins to be a divine prerogative."

The question of which is easier to say, your sins are forgiven or rise and walk clearly would show that it is easier to say something for which there is no visible evidence. Saying rise and walk demands the evidence of the man rising and walking. But the real impact of this statement is if Jesus was truly blaspheming, how then would it be possible for Him to bring about a healing?

Joh 9:31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will.

And so the healing comes. The purpose of this event was not to tell the scribes and Pharisees that they were wrong about the fact that only God could forgive, they were correct about this. Jesus's intent was to demonstrate that He was King, was divine, and was deity, and had the authority to forgive sins accordingly. He is the sin forgiver.

Mat 9:6 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins." So he said to the paralyzed man, "Get up, take your mat and go home."

Jesus referred to Himself as "the Son of Man" frequently through the gospels. This is a reference to Dan 7:13-14.

Dan 7:13-14 "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. (14) He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

This in an "in your face" affront to the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus is self identifying as the King whom every language will worship, and who's dominion is everlasting, and whose kingdom will never be destroyed.

Never the less, the people, watching intently to see if the man would rise and walk, were astonished and praised Jesus as God. We can see in this the consternation of the religious leadership who viewed Jesus as a blasphemer while the people were accepting Jesus as King. The people were amazed as they had never seen anything like this before, the forgiveness of sin validated by miraculous healings.

Mar 2:12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this!"

As in the case with the healing of the leper in Matt 8, Jesus was challenging the religious leadership of Israel to pay attention to Himself and make a decision to accept the King and Kingdom or reject it.

Matthew 9:9-13 - Jesus Calls Matthew

Mat 9:9-13 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector's booth. "Follow me," he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. (10) While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. (11) When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" (12) On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. (13) But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Jesus's summons of Matthew was born out of a previously established relationship. This interaction between Jesus and Matthew should not be assumed to be the first. Matthew was apparently ready for this event based on previous encounters.

Jesus's statement to Matthew to follow Him was telling Matthew to make a life change on the road of life. The Greek "akoloutheo" from which "follow" is translated means "road", and implies that Jesus called out to Matthew to change his direction completely. Matthew heeded the call.

Have you been asked by Jesus to "akoloutheo" Him? We are not called to mentally ascent to Jesus in His call to us to follow Him, but to change the road we are on and get on a different road.

As a result of Matthews career change, perhaps he throws a party with his friends and co-workers to announce his departure with Jesus. Jesus was at Matthew's house, not at a bar or nightclub.

The Pharisees of course complained about the appearances. Jesus was apparently quite comfortable with the sinners and tax collectors, while the Pharisees who were in attendance wanted nothing to do with them. The Pharisees and religious compared tax collectors to locusts, eating everything in it's path, and ostracized them from the Jewish community.

The Pharisees went further in displaying their disdain, and questioned the disciples about Jesus ease with the guests. The Pharisees did not want to have anything to do with them.

Jesus, having overheard the questions the Pharisees were asking His disciples jumped into the conversation and answered the Pharisees, and the statement that the healthy do not need a doctor, but the sick. This brought out Jesus's approach to the people, that His mission was to bring health to the sick, and so it should have been for the Pharisees. On the other hand, it was the mission of the Pharisees to avoid such people at all costs.

Luk 4:18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free,

Do we have a mindset among the people that we hang out with that we are there to bring healing to the sick, freedom to the oppressed, sight to the blind?

After explaining to the Pharisees that He had come to bring wholeness to the lost, Jesus was again in the face of the Pharisees as He directly insulted them and their lack of knowledge about God's Word.

Mat 9:13 But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

When Jesus told the Pharisees to "go and learn", he referred them to:

Hos 6:6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

In Hosea's day, as in Jesus's day, the apostate religious leaders had gone far away from the heart of scripture which taught them about having a merciful attitude towards others. Instead, they dug themselves into ritual and external practice of the law, rather than experiencing a "circumcision of heart".

Ritual led them to self righteousness and criticism of others. Jesus was telling the Pharisees that it was not the dead practice of ritual sacrifices that God wanted, but rather he wanted heart change and mercy. Jesus expectation for religious leadership is for them to lead sinners to life changing relationship, not push them away with self righteous criticism.

This harken's back to Mat 7:1-5. Our former discussion showed how the Pharisees judged with an attitude of superiority and disdain.

Mat 7:1-5 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. (2) For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (3) "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? (4) How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? (5) You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.

At this point in the ministry of Jesus, the Pharisees were done with their investigation into Jesus, and from this time forward followed Him everywhere and objected to everything He had to say and do. This set's the stage for the eventual rejection of Jesus in Matthew 12.

Matthew 9:14-15 - A Question About Fasting

Mat 9:14-15 Then John's disciples came and asked him, "How is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?" (15) Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.

In the meantime, some disciples of John the Baptist trying to understand what Jesus's ministry was all about asked Him a question about fasting. To them, Jesus was ignoring the teachings of the Pharisees, and they were looking for the reason for this discrepancy.

Why did the Pharisees reject Jesus? Short answer, He rejected Pharisaism.

God gave Israel the Mosaic Law when the Mosaic Covenant was established at Mt. Sinai. Biblical Judaism was the keeping of this Mosaic Law.

During the 400 years following the completion of the Hebrew Scriptures (OT), the Pharisees developed an entire system of traditions, rules and regulations. This system was called "Rabbinic Law", "Oral Law" or "Pharisaic Judaism".

The intent of the Rabbinic or Pharisaic system was to prevent people from breaking the Mosaic Laws. Rabbinic Judaism (Oral Law) was like a system of fences around the Mosaic Law designed to keep people on the right side of the law. While people might break the Rabbinic laws, it would keep them from breaking the Mosaic Law.

See Yeshua - The Life of Messiah Vol. 2, page 201 for example of how Rabbinic Law was introduced.

The Pharisees believed that Messiah would be a Pharisee Himself and would observe and support Rabbinic Judaism, the fence. Anyone who was not a Pharisee could not be the true Messiah. But Jesus had been rejecting the Rabbinic Law from the day He started His ministry with the Sermon on the Mount.

This question of fasting by John's disciples was an honest one on their part, and Jesus answers the question rather than rebuking them as He did with the Pharisees.

The question has to do with fasting, but no doubt has far reaching application into the Mishnah. John's disciples were fasting regularly, and they saw the Pharisees fasting often, but Jesus's disciples never fasted. This seemed inconsistent to them. According to Rabbinic Judaism, there were fasts that were appointed publicly, according to the Mishnah, or Oral Law.

Mat 9:10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples.

Luk 5:33 They said to him, "John's disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking."

Mar 2:18 Now John's disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, "How is it that John's disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?"

The New Testament does not command that people fast, and it is not a measure of spirituality, however, it is assumed and recognized that it is beneficial. It is a private matter and is intended for focus one upon a personal task, need or relationship with God.

The Bridegroom

Jesus associated the fast with mourning. When asked His disciples did not fast, he replied "how can the guests of the bridegroom mourn...". To explain why His disciples did not fast, he used a metaphor of the wedding feast, in keeping with the theme of the coming Messianic Kingdom.

Mat 9:15 Jesus answered, "How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.

The metaphor illustrates the absurdity of mourning and responding with a fast at a time when a feast is taking place. Likewise, it is absurd to do the same when the Master is healing and performing miracles. This is not the time to fast.

The time to fast is when the bridegroom is taken away from their presence, not while He was walking among them.

Joh 16:16-20 Jesus went on to say, "In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me." (17) At this, some of his disciples said to one another, "What does he mean by saying, 'In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me,' and 'Because I am going to the Father'?" (18) They kept asking, "What does he mean by 'a little while'? We don't understand what he is saying." (19) Jesus saw that they wanted to ask him about this, so he said to them, "Are you asking one another what I meant when I said, 'In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me'? (20) Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.

Matthew 9:16-17 - Cloth and Wineskins

Mat 9:16-17 "No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. (17) Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved."

The Patch

So Jesus continues expounding on the issue of Pharisaism, moving on th a metaphor of a patch on a garment.

When Jesus referred to "unshrunk cloth, He was speaking of a new piece of cloth that had not yet been washed and shrunk. If it is placed on a used garment which has already shrunk, the patch will shrink gathering up the surrounding material and distort it.

The point Jesus is making here is that He did not come to join with the Pharisees to patch up the Rabbinic System of law and plug more holes. Jesus was offering something new (a work of the heart), and would not mix the old with the new.


Grape juice was put into new wineskins, this enabled the wineskin to expand to accomomdate the fermentation of the wine. When a wineskin lost it's elasticity after several years, it no longer accommodated the expansion of the new wine, and ran the risk of splitting the old wineskin open, thus losing both, the wine and the wineskin. Therefore, old wine was put into old wineskins, and new wine was put into new wineskins.

The point Jesus was making here is that Jesus had come to bring something new, and did not intend to put it into an old inflexible system

The Old Wine

Luke records a 4th analogy.

Luk 5:39 And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, 'The old is better.'"

In this analogy, the old wine would be well aged wine, smooth and savory. Old wine would represent the Mosaic law, while the new wine would represent Pharisaic Judaism. The teachings of the Mosaic Law, which were given by God at Mt. Sinai are better then the teachings of Rabbinic Law, which were given by Rabbis.

Another way to say it is that ancient faith is like old wine, while Rabbinic Law is like the new wine.

In the end, the religions leaders of Israel decided that they preferred the new wine of Rabbinic Judaism. Jesus though, was saying that the old and the new could not coexist.

Church Fences

The filthy five, the nasty nine, the dirty dozen. Churches in some cases have their own version of the "Oral Law". Churches can produce lists of laws, and sometimes require adherence to these lists for membership. Keeping lists like this can turn into a false sense of spirituality.

There is no issue with individuals voluntarily keeping their own regulations beyond what the Bible teaches, but error is evident when the church assumes authority to enforce self imposed regulations on every one else.

Matthew 9:18-26 - Girl Restored to Life and Woman Healed

Mat 9:18-26 While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, "My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live." (19) Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples. (20) Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. (21) She said to herself, "If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed." (22) Jesus turned and saw her. "Take heart, daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you." And the woman was healed at that moment. (23) When Jesus entered the synagogue leader's house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, (24) he said, "Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep." But they laughed at him. (25) After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. (26) News of this spread through all that region.

During the time that Jesus is teaching about the difference between the Mosaic and Rabbinic Law, a man named Jairus, who was a Jewish synagogue leader came before Jesus in a position of worship. He was crying out to Jesus to heal his 12 year old daughter, who was dying. Jesus along with the disciples got up and went with Jairus to his house.

On the way, Jesus was crushed about from all sides, with many people touching him. A woman who needed healing from an issue of blood was among them and believed that Jesus could heal her. She believed if she could just touch the edge of His cloak, she would be healed.

When she touched Jesus's cloak, she was healed instantly, and Jesus, in the midst of the crowd touching Him on all sides knew that something special had happened. He felt power go out from Himself and asked, while looking at the woman, who had touched Him.

Luke provides extra detail:

Luk 8:43-48 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. (44) She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. (45) "Who touched me?" Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you." (46) But Jesus said, "Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me." (47) Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. (48) Then he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace."

What kind of faith does it take for a woman to do this?

In the meantime, having spent enough time with the woman who was healed from the issue of blood, word came that Jairus's daughter had died. Jairus was counseled to leave Jesus alone at this point.

Having just witnessed the faith of the woman, Jesus tells Jairus to have faith as well, and accordingly she would be restored to life, and she was.

Matthew 9:27-31 - Jesus Heals Two Blind Men

Mat 9:27-31 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, "Have mercy on us, Son of David!" (28) When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" "Yes, Lord," they replied. (29) Then he touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith let it be done to you"; (30) and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, "See that no one knows about this." (31) But they went out and spread the news about him all over that region.

This is another milestone account in the advancement of the Kingdom acceptance by the people. This is the first record of the use of the term "Son of David" by the people who were following Jesus around. The blind men clearly believed that Jesus was indeed the promised King that the angel Gabriel prophesied of.

Luk 1:32-33 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, (33) and he will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; his kingdom will never end."

The people were increasingly considering this possibility, and the blind men were the tip of the iceberg. Jesus's miracles and healings were revealing His authority over nature and death itself, and the people were believing.

Mat 12:23 All the people were astonished and said, "Could this be the Son of David?"

But the Pharisees vehemently rejected the idea that Jesus was the Son of David.

Mat 2:24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons."

Mat 21:15-16 But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they were indignant. (16) "Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him. "Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read, "'From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise'?"

The blind men followed Jesus from Jairus's house as he left, and followed him into possibly Peter's house, as was previously the case (Mat 8:14), or perhaps Matthew's house (Mat 9:10). According to their faith, they too were healed of their blindness.

Matthew 9:32-34 - Jesus Heals a Mute Man

Mat 9:32-34 While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. (33) And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel." (34) But the Pharisees said, "It is by the prince of demons that he drives out demons."

One after the other, Jesus brings healing to people who come to him. This time it is a demon possessed man who was mute, and once again, Jesus brings healing to the man.

Again, we have a miracle of healing that has never been seen before, and the crowd was amazed.

But the Pharisees are becoming hard set against Jesus, and accuse Him of doing His works of healing by the power of the prince of demons.

Matthew 9:35-38 - Harvest Plentiful, Laborers Few

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

Matthew records a summary of sorts to all that he has recorded regarding Jesus's miracles and healings. Although many from the crowds received healing and deliverance, there where many times more that were not healed due to proximity and sheer numbers.

As Jesus surveyed the landscape He has compassion on the people, and states that there is a great harvest available, but few workers to bring it in.

Jesus did not see "sinners", He saw people who were distressed and down trodden. He viewed the people as sheep without a shepherd. It is the religious that have left the people in such sad shape. This will lead to the commissioning of the 12 apostles in the next chapter.

Eze 34:1-6 The word of the LORD came to me: (2) "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? (3) You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. (4) You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. (5) So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. (6) My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.

Could their be a parallel today in mega churches where leadership is more concerned with growing the church and their reputations than caring for the people? The analogy of sheep is appropriate for people, being easily confused, tending to get lost, without defensive capabilities themselves. Jesus expected the shepherds to care for these people, but they had not.

This passage is not a "soul winning" passage, being addressed to and intended to care for the scattered people of God who need a shepherd.

Eph 4:11-14 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, (12) to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up (13) until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (14) Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.

Act 20:28-30 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. (29) I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. (30) Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.

Finally it is to be noted that the direction here is not to go around trying to find warm bodies to press into service, but rather to pray to the "Lord of the harvest" that HE send the workers.

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