Bible Commentaries
Matthew 9

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

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Verses 1-38

And so he entered into a ship, and he passed over, and he came to his own city ( Matthew 9:1 ).

His own city being Capernaum. I told you that was his headquarters.

And, behold, they brought to him a man who was sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus when he saw their faith said to the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven thee ( Matthew 9:2 ).

Now I can imagine that that was a tremendous disappointment to his friends. I'm certain that they had in their mind Jesus healing the guy so he'd get out of his bed and walk. And for Jesus to say, "Son, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven" that probably was disappointing to them. It may be was even disappointing to the guy lying there. But in reality, Jesus was giving him the greater gift first.

Really, it is more important that your sins be forgiven than you be healed of your ailments. What is more important than our salvation? Nothing. My healing is not as important as my salvation. The greatest miracle God has wrought in my life is my miracle of salvation, the forgiveness of my sins. That's God's greatest miracle in my life, the rest is really nothing compared to that great miracle of God. Sometimes people tragically say, oh, God's never really done any miracle in my life. Well, are you born again? Yeah. Well, hey, hey, hey. That's the greatest thing that God can do for you. The rest is really very simple when you consider the first thing that God has done.

"Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven." Oh, how we so often misunderstand because you see, we place a greater emphasis upon the material than we do the spiritual realm. Jesus was constantly showing that the most important realm is the spiritual realm and the material is inferior to the spiritual. So Jesus takes first thing first, the spiritual realm; "Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven".

However, there were certain scribes within themselves, when they heard that they said, [oh, oh] that's blasphemy. And so Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Why do you think evil in your hearts? ( Matthew 9:3-4 )

Would he say that to you if he knew your thoughts? "Why do you think evil in your hearts?" Oh, He does know your thoughts, he knows what's in the heart of man. Then he said,

What is easier to say, Your sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? ( Matthew 9:5 )

Now as far as saying, it's easier to say your sins be forgiven you because who can tell, you know, immediately what happened. If you say arise and walk, that's really harder to say because hey, if the guy doesn't arise and walk you say hey, he doesn't have anything. You see the arising and walk can bring an immediate demonstration of whether or not there's any power in what you'd said. It immediately puts it on the line because now we can have a physical demonstration to either prove or disprove the power of your word. So "What is easier to say, Your sins be forgiven; or Arise and walk?" It's a lot easier to say your sins be forgiven.

But that you may know that I have power on earth to forgive sin ( Matthew 9:6 ),

In other words, I'll give to you a demonstration of the power of My word that you may know that I have the power to forgive sins because you can't see that, that the spiritual work within, but we'll give you some physical evidence.

(he said to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up your bed, and go home. And he arose, and went home. And when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and they glorified God ( Matthew 9:6-8 ),

Notice, "they marvelled and they glorified God". Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men that when they see your good works they will glorify your Father which is in heaven"( Matthew 5:16 ). And so He did it in such a way as it brought glory to God.

And as Jesus passed forth from there, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom ( Matthew 9:9 ):

Matthew was a tax gatherer. He was a customs official. Capernaum was one of those cities where they had established a customs for those coming from the area of the north down through the valley and in the Golan and around the Sea of Galilee, catching them there as they were bringing their goods and charging custom.

And Jesus said unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed Jesus. And it came to pass, as Jesus was sitting at meat in the house, behold, there were many publicans and sinners and they came and sat down with him and his disciples ( Matthew 9:9-10 ).

Open house. A lot of publicans and sinners.

And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to his disciples, Why is your Master eating with publicans and sinners? ( Matthew 9:11 )

In that culture eating with people was extremely significant. They had inculturated with them the concept that to eat with someone is to become one with that person. Because we take a loaf of bread and I hold it out to you and you grab a piece off and you start eating it; I pull off a piece and I start eating it, we are both of us eating from the same loaf of bread. As I am eating from that loaf of bread it is now going in and being assimilated by my body and it's becoming a part of my body. As you are eating your piece of bread, you are assimilating it and it's becoming a part of your body; and thus, in a mystical way we're becoming a part of each other. I'm becoming one with you because the bread that is nourishing me and becoming a part of me is also nourishing you and becoming a part of you.

So you would never eat with anyone unless you wanted to be identified with that person and becoming one with them. That's why they were shocked that Jesus would eat with sinners and with publicans. You mean you would become one with a sinner? You would be identified with a sinner? Yes, he was identified with the sinners in order that they might identify with Him and receive his power and his forgiveness.

And so they came to the disciples and questioned them, how come?

And Jesus when he heard that, said unto them, Those that are whole don't need a physician, but those that are sick. But go and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice ( Matthew 9:12-13 ):

Now in the book of Hosea, the Lord talking to Israel said, "Look, I want mercy not sacrifice. I want you to start showing mercy. I'd rather you show mercy than offer sacrifices to me"( Hosea 6:6 ). And so Jesus is quoting them one of their scriptures out of Hosea. And he says,

Go and learn what that means when the Lord said, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for Jesus said I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Then came to him the disciples of John, and they said, Why is it that we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples don't fast? And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then they shall fast ( Matthew 9:13-15 ).

So while Jesus was with his disciples, was not the time for fasting. "The days will come when I will be gone, when I will leave and those will be the days when they can fast." And then Jesus talks about really, the worthlessness of reformation.

No man puts a piece of new cloth onto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up will take from the garment, and the tear is made worse ( Matthew 9:16 ).

Now in those days they didn't have Sanforize materials, preshrunk materials. And so if you would take an old garment that had been washed many times and you would sew a new patch into that old garment, the new patch would not have yet been shrunk. And so the first time you would wash the garment that new patch you put in would shrink and rip out the -- make the tear worse. And so Jesus is saying, "Look, you don't try and patch up the old garment with new material".

You don't put new wine in old skins: the new wine will burst the old skins: but you get new skins ( Matthew 9:17 ).

Now basically Jesus is talking against the religious systems that were established at that time and there's no reforming of them. I haven't really come to reform Judaism, to sew a new piece of cloth into this old garment or to put new wine in these old skins.

I do believe that there is also an application to this in the present times. I do believe that when God is desiring to do a fresh work that God often times has to go outside of the boundaries of the organized religious systems. I really don't know in history where we have any record of a true revival in a denominational group. Usually the great revivals ultimated in a whole new denomination being formed. It seems like the old skins get set, and so we see this marvelous work of God here.

But it is my personal conviction that God had to sort of raise up new skins for the work that He was wanting to do. And so I found myself personally in that frustrating position for many years of trying to put the new wine into the old skins and I was just ripping things apart. I was known as a rebel and as a nonconformist and every other thing that they could say, because I couldn't see going along with just the traditional things of the denomination. Why don't we just get back to the Word and follow the Word of God. And it seems simple enough, but the old skins just can't handle it; they're already set in their ways.

There are many people today who are still involved in the process of carefully pouring the new wine in the old skins, always trying to pour it in such a way that we don't split them, you know, don't burst them. But ultimately, people come to the conclusion that it's not an easy thing to do if it is at all possible.

Now while he spoke these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay your hand on her, and she shall live ( Matthew 9:18 ).

Say, this fellow was understandably very desperate at this point, but look at this tremendous faith. Worshipping Jesus he said, "Look, my daughter's dead: but I know if you'll come and lay your hand on her, she'll live".

And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples. And, behold, there was a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood for twelve years, and she came up behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. And Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; your faith has made you whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour ( Matthew 9:19-22 ).

Now, I wanna point out something that I feel is very important and very significant in this. And that is that this woman had set a point of contact for the releasing of her faith. Now I think that many times we have faith that God is able to do a particular thing but we never come to the place of actuating that faith. And I do believe that there is a value of actuating faith and it's important to actuate faith. It's more than just well, I know God can do it. Well, yes I believe the Lord can do it. It is I believe the Lord is doing it or the Lord will do it now or at that point when I am really actuating then the faith that I have.

Now this woman in her mind had set a point to actuate her faith; that point being the moment I touch the hem of His garment I know I'm gonna be healed. So that having set the point for the actuating of her faith, the moment she touched his garment, she actuated her faith and in that moment she was healed.

Now, I think that herein lies the value of having the elders lay hands on you, as the Bible tells us "If there are any sick among you let them call for the elders of the church. Let them lay hands on them, anoint them in the oil and the prayer of faith will save the sick"( James 5:14 ). I think that that laying on of hands is a tremendous place for the actuating of faith. I know that when I'm anointed with oil and the elders lay hands on me, God is gonna heal me because he's promised to. And it gives a point for the actuating of a person's faith. As soon as they lay hands I know God's gonna heal me, you know.

Jesus realizing that the miracle had been wrought, turned to her and said "be of good cheer, your faith," not My faith, "your faith has made you whole" and the woman was in that very hour.

And when Jesus came to the ruler's house, he saw the minstrels and the people making noise ( Matthew 9:23 ),

A, it is a custom many times, more in pagan lands, when someone is very sick or dying to gather together a great crowd for making a lot of noise, minstrels and so forth, to make a lot of noise, to drive the evil spirits away.

Jesus said unto them, Move aside: for the maid is not dead, she's only sleeping. And they laughed him to scorn. But when the people were put out, he went in, and took her by the hand, and she arose. And the fame went abroad into all that land. And when Jesus departed from there, there were two blind men who followed him, crying, and saying, Thou son of David, have mercy on us. And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus said unto them, Do you believe that I am able to do this? And they said unto him, Yes, Lord. And he touched their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, Don't let any man know this. But they, when they departed, spread abroad his fame in all that country. And as they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man who was possessed with a devil. And when the devil was cast out, the dumb man spoke: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never like this in Israel. But the Pharisees said, He has casting out devils through the prince of devils ( Matthew 9:24-34 ).

Notice that, because we'll be getting to that in a few moments as we move on and deal with the unpardonable sin they're beginning to get close.

And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. And when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. And then he said to his disciples, The harvest is truly plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest ( Matthew 9:35-38 ).

And so the ministry of Jesus. And notice how that Jesus does not formulate a pattern. How often we are trying to formulate patterns for God, define the circles in which God can move and develop the methods and develop the means. And we get all of these little, sort of, canned approaches to dealing with the problem. Let's see, what is your problem? Oh yeah, that's solution number seventeen. Let's see here, and you know, number one, two, three, four and we go down this little, you know, routine. We, so often like to routine God, put him in a box, combine him to a method and especially if, if that method has worked at one time.

And I'm guilty of this. I know that, you know, you think now what did I do, you know it worked that time. Now what did I do that was different you know. And you know, you try to get the same feeling or whatever you know, as though it was something to do with me rather than God's divine sovereign work.

And so with some, Jesus challenged their faith. But surely this little girl that was dead didn't have any faith. And you can't say, well it was her faith in Jesus, but immediately afterwards with the two blind men he said do you believe that I can do this? They said Oh yes, Lord. And he said, well, according to your faith be it done and their eyes were opened. The woman who had this hemorrhaging condition said I can just touch his garment and he said, "Woman, be of good cheer; you're faith has made you whole". Her faith.

So, you see there's no patterned way of God's working in a person's life. But when someone has the same thing that we have, we go and say now how did it happen? You know, what did you do? And, you know, I wanna learn the formula; I want to learn this little secret way so that I can follow, you know. But the Lord doesn't confine himself to a routine or to a pattern but he is diverse as we are diverse and he deals with each of us according to our own diverse need. And I love the Lord for his beautiful adaptability in being able to minister to me according to my own personality and my own need.

God is so glorious because I relate to him in such a personal way. He understands my own individual quirks and characteristics and he understands me and loves me just like I am and he deals with me according to my own personality and all, and thus he deals with each of us on that individual basis. And it is wrong for us to attempt to pattern God to, you know, well this is the way he did it for me and so if he doesn't do it for you that way well then hey, you, you know, don't quite have it, you know. If it wasn't done to you just like it's done for me, and so you form your denomination and I'll form mine and well, you know, and the lepers.

Another time there were ten lepers that came to Him. Jesus didn't touch him. He just said "go your way, show yourself to the priest". So, if they got together with this one that we read about tonight, oh, you mean he didn't touch you, ahem. Well you didn't get it like I did, man. He touched me. You can't belong to my church. I'm of the touch-me church. Well, we're of the touch-me-nots.

Yes, there is room for variety, as much diversity and variety as we have in people here tonight for God to work in our lives. Don't try to pattern God. Don't try to look for the same experience that someone had. You just relate to God in your own personal, unique way and God will relate to you in a very personal, unique way; and you'll have your own special walk and experience and relationship with God. So often times we give up, you know, they said that this happened, no it hasn't happened to me and no, you know, I don't have it. I guess because it didn't happen like it happened to them. The method by which God works in our lives are infinite in their varieties.

Well, we got two chapters done, we're improving. That's hundred percent. Next week, we'll start at ten. Who knows? Um, we'll try and take ten, eleven and twelve. I want to uh, get into the parables and spend time in the kingdom parables which begin in chapter thirteen, and that's not a good place to start, I mean that's not a good place to come in to at the end of a study; it's a place to start. So, we'll just aim for ten, eleven and twelve next week and uh, so, uh there's, there's a lot in that. Especially I want to spend some time on an issue that a lot of people have difficulty with and that's the unpardonable sin that Jesus brings out in our study next week, chapter twelve.

Shall we stand? We are so grateful for the marvelous work of God's love and His spirit within our lives, overwhelmed daily with the goodness and the blessings of God. God is so good. It's such a privilege being here with you. I thank God for this privilege. Every once in awhile I have a nightmare that I'm pastoring someplace else. Man, I'm so glad when I wake up in the morning. There's no place I'd rather be than just right here because of God's glorious work and the witness from this place that's going out to the world.

May the Lord bless you, continue to bless you. May the Lord's hand be upon your life this week. May you experience God's power working in your life in a very special way. May you be enriched in all things in Christ Jesus. May you experience a time of growth this week as the Lord draws you into closer fellowship with Himself, in Jesus' name. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Matthew 9". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.