The Agora
Bible Commentary

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28

Matthew 9

Mat 9:1

HIS OWN TOWN: Capernaum (Mar 2:1). Cp Joh 2:12: Christ had moved his family there.

Mat 9:2

BROUGHT: "Like an empty pitcher to the fountain".

THEIR FAITH: Power of faith and intercession of others: Mat 8:13; 9:32; 15:28; 17:14-18; Luk 8:50; Joh 4:49; Jos 6:17; Gen 7:1; 18:32; 19:12; Act 27:24.

PARALYTIC: One who is helpless. "When we were without strength Christ died for us" (Rom 5:6). Cp Rom 7:24,25; Isa 35:8.

YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN: The divine order: sins forgiven first; then, healing.

Mat 9:3

THIS FELLOW IS BLASPHEMING: "Who can forgive sins but God alone?" (Mar 2:7; Luk 5:21). See Isa 43:25; Dan 9:9. But surely they were forgetting that on the Day of Atonement the High Priest acted on God's behalf to do this very thing!

Mat 9:5

It is easier to SAY, "Your sins are forgiven", but harder to DO! The best proof of sins forgiven is to stand up and WALK!

Mat 9:6

The main purpose of the literal miracle was to demonstrate Christ's spiritual power to forgive sins.

THE SON OF MAN: "The embodiment of the race in whom the divine purpose with man is fulfilled; the second Adam who is the beginning of a new creation" (SMk 31). The title used of Ezekiel (Eze 2:1...) and Daniel (Dan 8:17). Cp Gen 1:26; Psa 8:4-6; 80:17,18: "Ben-Adam"; Dan 7:13,14.

AUTHORITY: "There was given to him dominion (ie authority)" (Dan 7:14).

GET UP: The best proof of forgiveness: to "get up" and "walk" in new life.

Mat 9:7

// Psa 102:2,3 (cp Jam 5:15); Psa 107:17-21.

Mat 9:8

Praising God for his healings: Psa 103:2,3. Healing and forgiveness together in Jam 5:15; Psa 107:17-21.

Mat 9:9

Vv 9-13: Mat 8 and Mat 9 are one long catalogue of miracles, except for the call of Matthew. Point: Matthew considers his discipleship (his calling away from his sordid profession) to be a great "miracle" too! (WGos 132).

// Isa 58:4-12: fasting, garments, feasting, healing.

MATTHEW: Or Levi (Mar 2:14; Luk 5:27).

FOLLOW ME: This calling of a new type of disciple -- a publican, not a fisherman -- emphasizes the broadening appeal of Christ's call -- and also that aspect of his ministry that brings him into conflict with the Pharisees (ie Mat 9:11; Mar 2:16; Luk 5:30). Typ of Isa 58:4-12: Fasting, garments, feasting, healing.

Mat 9:10

DINNER: Typ wedding feast (Mat 9:15; Mar 2:19; Luk 5:34,35). The calling of a new sort of disciple (a publican, not a fisherman): broadening appeal of Christ's call, and an affront to Pharisees (v 30). Cp Gen 21:8: a great feast, to publicly designate the heir to the promises. Again (as in Gen), immediately followed by mockery from the supposed "heir" -- ie the Pharisees (Mat 9:11; Mar 2:16; Luk 5:30) (WGos 133).

Mat 9:11

The Song of Songs forms the background for this section, but set also against the prophecy of Hosea: joy and forgiveness; the bride is indeed spotless, but only because her sins have been forgiven (SMk 42,43).

"Any attempt at alliance with the Pharisees was bound to mean ruin for Jesus' movement, because the Pharisees were interested only in absorbing for their own prestige and benefit this and any other surge of religious enthusiasm" (WGos 137).

WHEN THE PHARISEES SAW THIS: They would not attend a meal with such guests, but they would watch from a distance to find fault.

THEY ASKED HIS DISCIPLES: Trying to drive a wedge between leaders and followers. How clever! Jesus is criticized to his disciples (Mat 2:11; Mar 2:16; Luk 5:30), and his disciples are criticized to Jesus (Mat 2:14; Mar 2:18; Luk 5:33)!

Mat 9:12

HEALTHY: Lit "the strong ones" (ct v 2). A powerful irony. "A suicidal self-sufficiency" (NMk 24), and an infatuation with rituals, and a penchant for hypocrisy.

Mat 9:13

A Heb idiom: "Not so much this as that." "Not only this but that also." Pro 8:10; Jer 7:22,23; Joel 2:13; Mar 9:37; Luk 14:26; Joh 3:17; 5:30; 6:27; 7:16; 9:30; 12:44,47; 14:24; Act 5:4; Rom 2:13; 1Co 7:10; 15:10; 1Jo 3:18.

Mic 6:8: In context, "until they acknowledge their offense, and then (and then only) will He heal them" (Hos 5:15; 6:1).

Mat 9:14

HOW IS IT THAT WE... FAST?: Mon and Thurs -- the 2 weekly fast days of Pharisaic tradition (SMk 42). Cp Luk 18:12n. Their fasting was, supposedly, to hasten the coming of the Messiah (WGos 136).

AND THE PHARISEES: Impl a certain affinity between John's disciples and the Pharisees.

Mat 9:15

THE GUESTS OF THE BRIDEGROOM: "The children of the bridechamber" (AV). General term for all invited guests. "Eat, O friends, and drink abundantly, O beloved" (Song 5:1): the invitation of the bridegroom. Also an allusion to Joh 3:29.

THE BRIDEGROOM WILL BE TAKEN FROM THEM: For the first time, the "shadow of the cross" falls across Mark's pages. An allusion to Song 5:6,7. Also to Isa 53:8: "His life was taken away" (LXX).

THEN THEY WILL FAST: The Pharisees fasted to hasten the coming of the Messiah, but now that he had come their whole system of traditions had been rendered meaningless.

Mat 9:16

The new way of life (which Christ brings) cannot be torn apart to patch an old and useless garment. The new "garment" must be used in its entirety. The old garment (fig-leaf covering) must be put aside completely in favor of the new garment (skins, required bloodshed). "Put off old man; put on new man" (Eph 4:23,24; cp Exo 28r; Isa 61:1,3,10).

UNSHRUNK CLOTH: A cloth not properly prepared for a garment: Luk 5:36n. As with the prodigal son, only a new garment will suffice for a new life: Luk 15:22. Lit "raw", or "unfulled". To "full" a garment: to shrink, or otherwise prepare cloth by pressure, heat, or moisture.

Mat 9:17

The new life in Christ is not a "patch" for the old; it is a new "whole". Cp Jos 9:4,13; Psa 119:83.

Mat 9:18

See Lesson, Laying on of hands.

A RULER: "One of the synagogue rulers" (Mar 5:22). A president of synagogue, who had likely ignored Jesus until now. Some synagogues probably had more than one ruler (Act 13:15). "He WAS a ruler..." (KJV). Was Jairus later demoted through becoming a follower of Jesus?

CAME: He did not send for Jesus, as might one in his position; instead, he came to Jesus, as a lesser comes to a greater.

AND KNELT BEFORE HIM: See Lesson, Worship of Christ?

JUST DIED: Note progression: "about to die" (Luk 7:2); just died (Mat 9:18); about to be buried (Luk 7:12); and dead 4 days (Joh 11:39).

Mat 9:20

SUBJECT TO BLEEDING: Ceremonially unclean, and a social outcast (Lev 15:19-30). She was supposed to be separated from other people, and from the synagogue, and from Temple worship -- not for any moral reason, but for a physical condition. In effect, she was being punished for something of which she was not guilty.

TWELVE YEARS: Cp the 12 years of v 42. This woman's misery was as old as the daughter of Jairus.

CAME UP BEHIND HIM: By rabbinical law, she should not have even been in the city -- much less in a crowd of people. This took great courage on the part of a poor, and probably weak and frail, woman.

We have to seek out and reach for Jesus; he will not be handed to us on a silver platter!

AND TOUCHED THE EDGE OF HIS CLOAK: With its border of blue (cp Num 15:37,38). To do so, she must have fallen to her knees.

"In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, 'Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you' " (Zec 8:23).

All the occasions of Jesus touching, or being touched, in the context of healing (notice that not one of them is in John's gospel): Mat 8:3,15; 9:20,21,29; 14:36; 17:7; 20:34; Mark 1:41; 3:10; 5:27,28,30,31; 6:56; 7:33; 8:22; 10:13; Luk 5:13; 6:19; 7:14,39; 8:44-47; 18:15; 22:51.

Mat 9:21

The reverse of legal restriction: 'If I touch him, he shall be unclean too!' A man who could touch unclean, and yet remain pure himself.

HIS CLOAK: "The sun of righteousness... with healing in his wings" (Mal 4:2), ie borders (Num 15:38 sw) of his garments.

Mat 9:22

DAUGHTER: Mentioned in both miracles here.

This is the only occasion when Jesus so addresses any woman; he demonstrates that there is a spiritual relationship between them, beyond all natural ties.

YOUR FAITH: And not simply my power....

HAS HEALED YOU: With restored ability to bear children, as Hannah?

Mat 9:25

THE CROWD HAD BEEN PUT OUTSIDE: Cp context of Mat 8; 9 with Num 5:1-4. By LM, lepers, bleeders, and those defiled by dead were "put out" of camp. Here, Christ heals such as this, whilst putting the disbelievers "outside" (Tes 52:257,258).

TOOK THE GIRL BY THE HAND: Christ touches that which is defiled. Death! the ultimate defilement, yet held no fear for Christ, who "tasted death" for all men.

AND SHE GOT UP: A parable of baptism: sleep of death, touch of Master's hand, words: "Arise" and "walk"! Baptism will "raise us from the dead", but we must "get up and walk" -- or it means... ultimately... nothing at all!

"Thy touch has still its ancient power;
No word from thee can fruitless fall.
Hear in this solemn evening hour,
And in thy mercy heal us all.
Jesus, Deliverer, near to us be;
Soothe thou our voyaging over life's sea:
Then when the storm of death roars, sweeping by,
Say thou, O Lord of life, 'Peace, it is I.' "

Mat 9:29

THEN HE TOUCHED THEIR EYES: All the occasions of Jesus touching, or being touched, in the context of healing (notice that not one of them is in John's gospel): Mat 8:3,15; 9:20,21,29; 14:36; 17:7; 20:34; Mark 1:41; 3:10; 5:27,28,30,31; 6:56; 7:33; 8:22; 10:13; Luk 5:13; 6:19; 7:14,39; 8:44-47; 18:15; 22:51.

Mat 9:30

SEE THAT NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT THIS: Silence was his settled policy for most of his ministry (Mat 9:30; 17:9; 12:16; Mar 1:34; 5:43; 7:36; 8:26; Luk 5:14), with one notable exception (Mar 5:19 -- Legion with his family). But in last days of ministry, a change of course (Mat 21:1-11; Joh 7:37; 9:3; 11:4).

Mat 9:32

WAS BROUGHT TO JESUS: Power of faith and intercession of others: Mat 8:13; 9:32; 15:28; 17:14-18; Luk 7:10; 8:50; Joh 4:49; Jos 6:17; Gen 7:1; 18:32; 19:12; Act 27:24.

Mat 9:38

ASK THE LORD OF THE HARVEST, THEREFORE, TO SEND OUT WORKERS INTO HIS HARVEST FIELD: This is precisely what Jesus did when confronted with a nation ripe for "harvest": pray and then choose 12 laborers (Mat 10:2-4).

TO SEND OUT: Cast out, expel -- impl great reluctance on the part of the laborers.

See Lesson, Now hiring.

Previous Index Next