Thursday, June 21, 2012

Matthew Chapter 9

This chapter contains four healing pericopes, a discourse of fasting and then two episodes about discipleship.  Matthew includes his own calling from the Lord in verse 9. There is some debate as to whether or not the Matthew named in verse 9 is the same Matthew that is among the 12 Apostles.  Matthew the tax collector is mentioned in verse 9 and is mentioned again in verse 3 of chapter 10 in the list of the 12 apostles.  He is called the ‘tax collector’ in both instances. Whether or not that’s the same guy as “Levi” who is mentioned in a similar episode in Mark’s gospel (Mk 2:14) is up for debate. In either case, the point here is that Matthew, whoever he was, was a faithful follower of Jesus and was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write a Gospel.

Perhaps one of the most beautiful lines of Matthew’s Gospel occurs in v. 35-38. These verses show the deep and heart-felt compassion of Jesus. The fact that it follows up four healing episodes seems to say that Jesus compassion manifested itself in the fact that he is ready and willing and freely heals people and forgives their sins. This is one of the characteristics that I like about Jesus: he is compassionate and caring.

The question of fasting brought up in vv. 14-17 probably has nothing to do with actual fasting. Instead, read the verses carefully, they actually have to do with Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount. Remember what we said about the Sermon on the Mount… it’s a new teaching.

Finally, in vv. 18-26 we see, according to Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus’s first miracle in which he raises someone from the dead. The Jewish official’s daughter has just died and he comes to Jesus asking him to bring her back to life. Jesus, in classic Jesus-style, goes without a word. Along the way, he heals another person.  The verse that ends that particular pericope (26) is fascinating.  I wonder what it would have been like to had heard this news of this little girl brought back to life…

Point for Prayer
The Lord’s healing ministry is a huge part of his identity and mission. How can we share in that healing ministry? In what ways can I bring about healing for others today? In what ways can I experience Jesus’s healing for me today?

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