Paralysis hinders the body from yielding to the mind. Jesus healed the paralytic, and he can heal souls from the grip of sin. What a powerful point is made in the first 8 verses. No physical change would be evident when Jesus forgave sins. Thus, the teachers of the Law doubted Jesus’ authority to grant forgiveness. However, when Jesus told the paralytic to take up his mat and walk, he did so. This demonstrated his authority to forgive sins.
Jesus began to call disciples, those who would follow him and learn of his nature and his will. Matthew was a tax collector, a man despised among the Jews. He was tasked with collecting revenue for Rome, and given the right to name his own fee. Jesus enlisted Matthew and ate with him, demonstrating acceptance and fellowship. The self-righteous Pharisees objected. Jesus explained that he came to heal the sick, not to congratulate those who are well. He came to extend mercy. He came to save sinners (Matt. 1:21; Luke 19:10). The task of the church is to seek and save the lost, not to rest with contentment and pride.
Fasting comes up once again. Fasting was often done in time of difficulty, and when waiting for God to send an answer. Jesus’ disciples currently enjoyed his company; fasting would come when he was sacrificed for sins. Jesus used two illustrations to explain that the Gospel did not conform to their set ways of thinking. It is “good news!” Jesus did not come to patch up the old Law, but to fulfill it and replace it (Matt. 5:17-18). The old Law could not define and contain the newness of the Gospel.
As Jesus responded to the request of a ruler whose daughter had died, he was approached by a woman who had been sick. She had suffered from a hemorrhage for 12 years. The woman sought to merely touch the hem of his garment, believing in his power. Jesus healed her immediately. Then, arriving at the ruler’s house, he restored his daughter to life. Death seems final to many men, but Jesus has power over death. He raised the dead, and he was raised to life. At the last day, he will raise all the dead to be judged (John 5:28-29). The news of his power spread.
Jesus continued to heal, restoring sight to the blind and speech to the mute. He urged those healed to remain quiet about it for the time being. Jesus did not want people to flock to him merely for physical healing. This would hinder his greater purpose. When Jesus drove the demon from the mute man and he was able to speak, the crowd was amazed. Jesus can drive evil from our lives if we will let him. Then we should speak up for him.
Jesus was saddened at the lack of workers to help those who were harassed and helpless. This is true of our time as well. Let us ask the Lord to send out workers to gather the harvest.
My comments are not an inspired commentary, but rather a few words to draw attention to the background, context, and dynamic situation of Matthew’s gospel. May God bless your reading of His Word. T.C.