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the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 9

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

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Verses 1-38

Matthew 9:1 . Jesus came into his own city, Capernaum, as in Mark. Our Saviour was a stranger on earth, born in Bethlehem, an exile in Egypt, resident at Nazareth, but latterly in Capernaum.

Matthew 9:2 . A man sick of the palsy. This is a disease in which the whole nervous system is relaxed and dissolved.

Jesus seeing their faith. As the centurion’s faith was advantageous to his servant, so the faith of this paralytic’s friends was of the last service to himself; though it may be supposed that he himself wanted not faith.

Son be of good cheer; thy sins are forgiven thee. In the religion of the Hebrews, the pardon of sin, and the healing of the body are often joined. Psalms 103:3. Isaiah 38:14. So in Jeremiah 3:22, it is said, “Return, and I will heal your backslidings.” Our Saviour healed this man’s soul before he cured his body, and before any prayer was offered. He knew that long afflictions had prepared his heart for the pardoning love of God, and what it was that would afford him the most certain relief. Ministers may here learn a duty in visiting the sick, to help the soul before they administer relief for the body.

Matthew 9:3 . This man blasphemeth. To blaspheme, in this place, signifies not to speak evil against God, but to arrogate a power that belongs to God.

Matthew 9:9 . Jesus saw Matthew sitting at the receipt of custom. See on Luke 5:27, where his call is more largely related.

Matthew 9:17 . They put new wine into new bottles. Job has the same remark in chap. Job 32:19: utres novi. See on Joshua 9:4.

Matthew 9:18 . Lay thy hand upon her. It was no new thing to the jews that God was wont to honour the prophets, and to confer gifts upon others, in answer to their intercessions and prayers, which were figured out by the imposition of hands. See Numbers 27:11; Numbers 27:20. 2 Kings 5:18. Imposition of hands properly denotes the efficacy of the divine power; and in that sense it is to be understood in Acts 4:30. Jairus seems to have supposed that Christ was unable in any other way but by prayer to cure his daughter. See on Mark 5:36.

Matthew 9:20 . A woman touched the hem of his garment. This was a remarkable instance of faith, which our blessed Lord was pleased to honour with a miraculous cure. The hem of the garment denotes the fringes or threads that hung down at the borders of the surcoat, the jews being commanded to wear them as a badge of distinction from other nations, and as a mark of their holiness and purity. See Numbers 15:38. Zechariah 8:23.

Matthew 9:22 . The woman was made whole from that hour. Our Saviour often improved his own miracles: we must follow his example.

(1) This woman had an infirmity; so have we an inborn and wicked propensity of heart, which is the source of every evil.

(2) It was a chronic and obstinate case of twelve years’ continuance; so it is with the evils of our heart, which are coĆ«val with our birth.

(3) Physicians could not heal her; all our moral reforms and efforts prove of no avail; they merely crop and check the poisonous weeds.

(4) She grew worse and worse; evils grow and encrease in the sinner’s heart, and by acts of sin all the stubborn habits are formed.

(5) She had spent all her small fortune on physicians, and had become poor; so when the sinner is stripped of his vain pleas, and unavailing hopes, he will then come to the Saviour poor and needy.

(6) The woman now sought a cure by faith only: “if I may but touch the hem of his garment I shall be healed.” The symbols of faith, whether a brazen serpent, or bread and wine, are but symbols; it is the faith that penetrates within the veil, and lays hold on the Saviour, that brings the healing virtue of grace into the heart.

Matthew 9:23 . Saw the minstrels. The jews, in time of mourning, made use of minstrels, who played on musical instruments for seven days, as appears from Genesis 50:10. Jeremiah 9:17.

Matthew 9:25 . He took her by the hand, and the maid arose. Just as we are used to do, when we rouse any one out of his sleep. By which Christ showed them, that God was as ready to recal the dead to life, as to rouse the sleepy; which is of great service to confirm our faith.

Matthew 9:27 . Two blind men followed him. See on Luke 18:35.

Matthew 9:37 . The harvest truly is plenteous. When the Saviour saw the willingness of the people to hear, and how the sheep were scattered, his bosom ever moved with pastoral care for the flock. Of the ignorance and idleness of the Hebrew shepherds, much is said; and it was not less so in the monkish ages of popery. The slough of barbarism was on all the parishes, till the reformers became inspired with the spirit of their master. We are therefore directed to pray that the Lord would raise up men full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, to seek and save the multitudes which are lost. Christ is tacitly the Lord of the harvest. He gave some to be apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists: yea, he is Lord both of the living and the dead. When he sends out men, as he sent St. Paul and the apostles, they watch as those that must give an account. The Lord heard their prayers, as in the next chapter.


By sea and land the Saviour, like the clouds, scattered blessings down. Miraculous faith, though rare and special, seemed at that time to be common. A crowd of believers lifted the paralytic man up to the roof of the house, and thence let him down among the company. The grace and power of Christ corresponded with the faith and efforts of the people. He preached righteousness to the sick man’s soul, and then restored his body to health and strength. This miracle is the more remarkable, as it was wrought in the presence of unbelievers, of doctors and teachers the hardest to be converted to God. The old man in the heart must either be expelled, or the door of heaven for ever shut against the sinner.

The Lord having rebutted the incredulous temper of the pharisees, next choked their prejudices by going to dine at Matthew’s house with publicans. Conquerors have ever crowded temples and churches with standards and trophies taken in war. Those publicans were the trophies of the gospel. The swearers became devout, the cruel became compassionate, the extortioners made restitution, accompanied with alms. Luke 19:8. Where can earth boast of trophies like these? Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory.

The woman, long afflicted with hemorrhage, more fit to keep her bed than venture among the crowd, was revived by his approach, and equalled them all in an act of faith, and in receiving an edifying example of cure. These were days of the Son of man; the blind saw, the lame walked, the dumb published his fame, and the people glorified God. What encouragement do all those cases give us to come to Jesus, to make our daily requests known to him by prayer and supplication.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Matthew 9". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/matthew-9.html. 1835.
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