Jesus heals, debates, forgives
Jesus to paralyzed man: “Your sins are gone”1 Since the people asked Jesus to leave, he left. He got into the boat, crossed back to the other side of the lake, and went back into the town where he had been staying. 2 Some people brought to Jesus a paralyzed man who was lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw the faith of these people, he turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Courage, buddy. Your sins are forgiven.” 3 Some of the scholars known as scribes mumbled, “This man just insulted God!” 4 Jesus knew what they were thinking. So he said, “Why do you cram so much evil into your heads and your hearts? 5 What’s easier to say: ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Get up and walk’? 6 I’m going to do this to show you that I, the Son of Humans, have every right to forgive sins here on earth.” Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Get up. Pick up your stretcher. Go home.” 7 The man got up and went home. 8 Shock and awe swept through the crowd. The people started raving about God and thanking him for giving someone power like this.
Jesus picks a taxman as a disciple9 When Jesus headed out, he came to the local tax booth. A man named Matthew was sitting there. Jesus said to him, “Come with me.” Matthew got right up and went with him. 10 Jesus and his disciples ate that day with a bunch of taxmen and other folks who had a fairly solid reputation for sinning. 11 A group of Jews known as Pharisees, saw what was going on. They went over to the disciples of Jesus and asked, “What does your teacher think he’s doing, eating with these tax collectors and sinners?” 12 Jesus heard what they said. He told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor. Sick people do. 13 You need to do a little more studying. You need to learn what our Bible means when it says, ‘I don’t want to see you offering sacrifices. I want to see you showing mercy.’ I didn’t come here for good and godly people. I came to invite sinners.”
Why disciples skipped fasting instead of meals14 Disciples of John the Baptist cornered Jesus with a question: “Why don’t your disciples ever skip meals in a fast? We do. So do the Pharisees, a lot.” 15 Jesus said, “Friends of the groom don’t skip the food at a wedding, do they? The time will come when the groom will be taken away. They will fast then. 16 When you need to repair torn clothing, you don’t try to fix it by sewing on a patch of cloth that has never been washed. If you do that, the patch would shrink and rip the hole even bigger. 17 And people don’t pour new wine into old wineskins. If they did, the wine would expand as it continues to ferment, and it would pop the wineskin. You’d lose the wine and the wineskin. Instead, people put new wine into new wineskins. That way, you save both the wine and the wineskin.
Jesus goes to help a dead girl18 Jesus was still talking when a leader at the local synagogue came over and dropped to the ground, bowing in front of him. The man said, “My little girl has just died. But if you come and put your hands on her, she’ll live again.” 19 Jesus and his disciples got up and followed the men to his home.
Woman healed by touching Jesus20 As they walked, a woman sneaked up behind Jesus and touched the fringe of his robe. She had been suffering from a chronic flow of blood for the past 12 years. 21 She had been telling herself, “If only I can manage to touch his clothes, I’ll get healed.” 22 Jesus turned around and looked at the woman. He told her, “Don’t be afraid, my daughter. You’re healed, and it’s because of your faith.” She walked away healed.
Jesus raises a dead girl23 Flute players and a noisy crowd of mourners greeted Jesus when he got to the home of the synagogue leader. 24 Jesus told the people, “Leave. This girl isn’t dead. She’s just sleeping.” The people scolded him for saying such a thing. 25 When the people cleared the room, Jesus went over to the girl. He took her by the hand and she got up. 26 News about this spread all over the area.
Jesus heals a blind men, tells him not to talk27 When Jesus left there, two blind men started following him. They kept yelling, “Please help us, Son of David!” 28 Jesus went into the house where he was staying. The blind men followed him there. Jesus asked them, “Do you believe I’m able to do this for you?” They answered, “Yes, sir, we do.” 29 Jesus touched their eyes and said, “Since you’ve got the faith to see again, open your eyes and look around.” 30 They opened their eyes and they could see. Then Jesus gave them a stern warning: “Look here. I want you to make sure no one knows anything about what just happened.” 31 The men left and told everyone about everything that just happened. Word spread throughout the countryside.
Jesus heals a man who can’t talk32 As the formerly blind men were leaving, some other people brought to Jesus a demon-possessed man who couldn’t talk. 33 After the exorcism, the man started talking. The crowd of people who saw this was absolutely amazed. “Wow! Nothing like this has ever happened before anywhere in Israel!” 34 Pharisees started spreading a rumor. They said, “You know where he gets the power to boss demons around? From the ruler of demons.”
Help wanted: for spiritual harvest35 Jesus went into cities and villages all over the area. He taught in synagogues. He preached the good news about the Kingdom of Heaven. He healed everyone brought to him. It didn’t matter what kind of illness or disease they had. 36 He felt for the people. He could see they were facing a lot of troubles and they had no idea where to turn for help. They were like lost sheep without a shepherd. 37 He told his disciples, “There’s a huge crop out there ready to harvest. But we don’t have enough workers. 38 Ask the Boss in charge of the harvest to send more workers out into the field.”
Jesus seems to have made Capernaum his ministry headquarters. Peter lived there, near the synagogue.
Usually translated “Son of Man.” This is a title Jesus used a lot to describe himself. In the Jewish Bible the phrase contains hints of divinity in some passages and humanity in others—perhaps a perfect phrase for describing someone Christians would say was fully God and fully human. Hint of the divine: the prophet Daniel saw someone like a son of man coming from heaven (Daniel 7:13 New Living Translation). Hint of the human: God often described Ezekiel as a mere mortal by using the phrase “son of man” (Ezekiel 2:1 New Living Translation).
See the note for 3:7.
Pharisees fasted twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays, according to a collection of early Jewish writings known as the Mishnah. Jesus refers to that in a parable about a tax collector and a Pharisee praying at the Temple. Jesus quotes the Pharisee as saying, “I skip meals so I can fast twice a week” (Luke 18:12).
Bible experts debate why Jesus followed his illustration about a bridegroom with two snippets of wisdom that can seem unrelated. One theory is that the two short sayings, which sound a little like condensed parables, are sending the signal that the old style of Jewish faith can’t continue under the new agreement God is setting up through Jesus. The old practices are represented by the old cloth and the old wineskin that are already stretched as far as they will go.
Luke describes her as Jairus’s “only child, a 12-year-old girl” (Luke 8:42). In Luke, the description is more literally “only begotten daughter.” “Only begotten” usually refers to an only child. But in this case, it could refer to the girl as his only daughter. Matthew simply describes her as a daughter.
Possibly heavy menstrual bleeding. One contender for the diagnosis is menorrhagia, a disease that produces excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding—or both. Some manuscripts add that the woman spent everything she had on doctors. A first-century collection of medical treatments, Natural History, written by Pliny, includes scores of treatments for the problem of heavy menstrual bleeding.
Bible experts say it’s a good guess that Jesus stayed in the home of Peter, who apparently lived just a few meters (yards) away from synagogue in Capernaum. Ruins of a church were discovered there, built over a house that apparently belonged to someone deeply respected by Christians in the village.
Matthew doesn’t say who was leaving. It’s possible that Jesus and the disciples were leaving. But given the context, perhaps a better guess is that the formerly blind men with big mouths were the ones leaving, to spread the word.
We can pick up extra details about the story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man. Compare Matthew 9:1-8 to Mark 2:1-12 and Luke 5:27-32. A crowd of people had surrounded Jesus. The folks carrying the paralyzed man had to tear open a hole in the roof so they could lower the man to Jesus. What do you think of the people who had the chutzpah to do that?
Some Bible experts call attention to the fact that Jesus phrased the forgiveness in the passive voice. Instead of saying “I forgive you,” (active voice) Jesus said “Your sins are forgiven.” Scholars say that suggests that it was God doing the forgiving and Jesus delivering the message. What do you think about that?
Why do you think Jesus forgave the paralyzed man his sins (9:2) when the man had not repented or done anything that we typically think a person needs to do to get forgiven?
Many people reading the story of Jesus healing the paralyzed man, Christians included, would argue that the Jewish scholars had every right to criticize Jesus for forgiving this man. Jesus defended himself by healing the man, implying that this proved Jesus had God’s backing. What do you think are some of the arguments the Jewish scholars could have made in response?
Jewish scholars seemed to firmly believe that Jesus disrespected God by forgiving the sins of the paralyzed man (9:3). So Jesus healed the man to prove he had authority from God. The scholars did not seem convinced. What do you think it would have taken to convince them?
Jewish scholars watched Jesus perform healing miracles, like curing the paralyzed man, whom they may have personally known all of his life. Then Jesus reads their minds and asks them, “Why do you cram so much evil into your head and your heart?” (2:8). Yet most of the scholars seemed intransigent and absolutely opposed to Jesus throughout his ministry. How could they deny that Jesus had superhuman power?
Why do you think Jesus seemed particularly fond of describing himself as the “Son of Humans” (9:6)?
Jewish scholars came from all over the Jewish homeland to witness what was going on with Jesus. What do you think would have been the main attraction for them? Would it have been the unusual teachings of Jesus that didn’t always track well with Jewish traditions? Or would it have been his healing ministry?
Jesus invited the tax collector Matthew, also known as Levi (Mark 2:14), to join his group as one of the disciples (9:9). Most Jews hated tax collectors because the tax collectors worked as collaborators with the occupying Roman army. Why do you think Jesus would risk antagonizing Jewish leaders by picking a man like this to join his team?
Jewish leaders seemed to lose respect for Jesus when they saw he was hanging out with sinners (9:11). Why would they think like that? Why shouldn’t a religion leader spend time with people who needed religion?
Jesus gives the disciples of John the Baptist three analogies to explain why his disciples don’t fast now, but will fast after he’s gone.
- We don’t skip food when we’re celebrating with the groom.
- We don’t repair old cloths with patches from new cloth that will shrink.
- We don’t put new, still-fermenting wine into old and brittle wineskins.
What do you think the first analogy has to do with the other two, if anything?
The story of Jesus raising the dead girl back to life (9:18-19, 23-25) shows up, with extra details, in Mark 5:21-43 and Luke 8:40-56. The girl was the daughter of a synagogue leader named Jairus. After Jesus brought the dead daughter of Jairus back to life, he “gave the people in the room strict orders not to tell anyone about what happened” (Mark 5:43). Mark doesn’t say why Jesus gave them such an impossible secret to keep. Any guesses why he did that?
The story of the woman who seems to be struggling with excessive menstrual bleeding shows up also in Mark 5:25-34 and Luke 8:40-48. Mark says the woman spent all her money on doctors, in an attempt to find a cure (Mark 5:26). Does the footnote to that verse give you any extra confidence in the reliability of Mark’s reporting? Here’s the footnote: “A first-century collection of medical treatments, Natural History, written by Pliny, includes scores of treatments for the problem of heavy menstrual bleeding. After reading the list of remedies, which includes crushed jellyfish as a topical ointment, it’s easy to see how someone could go broke.”
People who were ritually unclean were supposed to avoid contact with other people. Lepers were considered unclean. So were women during their menstrual period. That’s possibly why the woman who was healed when she touched Jesus became “terrified” when Jesus discovered her. “The woman trembled” (Mark 5:33). Yet Jesus didn’t say anything about that. He healed her and he told her “Don’t be afraid” (9:22) and “Go in peace” (Mark 5:34). What does that tell you about Jesus?
When the blind men called out for help from Jesus, why do you think they added the title “Son of David” (9:27)?
Jesus told the blind men “Since you’ve got the faith to see again, open your eyes and look around” (9:29). Do you think they would have been healed if they didn’t have enough faith?
Pharisees watching Jesus heal a demon-possessed man who couldn’t talk started spreading a rumor: “You know where he gets the power to boss demons around? From the ruler of demons” (9:34). In Luke’s version of the story, Jesus defended himself. He said it wouldn’t make sense for Satan to fight against himself (Luke 11:18). That may not seem like a foolproof argument because Satan can certainly use that tactic as a trick. If you were going to help defend Jesus against the accusation that he gets his power from the devil, how would you do it?
LIFE APPLICATION. When disciples of John the Baptist ask why the disciples of Jesus didn’t fast like other Jews, Jesus essentially seems to say that the disciples would fast when he was gone (9:15). Some Christians today do occasionally skip meals, as a spiritual practice. If you know of any Christians who do occasionally fast, what are some of the reasons that motivate them to do it?
LIFE APPLICATION. Jesus ministered in “cities and villages all over the area” (9:35). Other reports of his ministry says he got tired. At one point, he tells the disciples, “Let’s get out of here. Let’s go where we can be alone and rest for a while” (Mark 6:31). They got in a boat and sailed off. But when they came to shore on a different part of the lake, they were greeted by a large crowd. Jesus’s “heart melted with compassion,” and he got back to work teaching the people. What lesson do you see in this little story?
LIFE APPLICATION. When the people saw Jesus forgive the sins of the paralyzed man and then heal him, they said “Wow! Nothing like this has ever happened before anywhere in Israel!” (9:33). Luke’s version adds more drama: “The people weren’t just astonished. They were rattled” (Luke 5:26). Have you or has anyone you know experienced anything like that—God doing something so remarkable that it left you absolutely astonished and maybe a little spooked?