Matthew Nine – 2010

Matthew Chapter ★9: About the man Jesus.

★9:1And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. 2And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” 3And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4But Jesus, knowinga their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 6But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” 7And he rose and went home. 8When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. I have to admit, I’m pretty confused about this verse.  I really don’t know how to apply it or even read it!? The question I find most puzzling is “For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?” Kinda’ sounds like Jesus is asking a rhetorical question, but I can’t figure out what the rhetorical answer is?
On one hand it is harder to say “rise and walk”, because that will require an immediate action response.  On the other hand, who can forgive sins? Isn’t the sin in the first place that prerequisites the sickness? And there is no forgiveness without payment of some kind, either by the one requiring forgiveness or the one forgiving, someone always pays for a transgression.  So I can’t figure out what is easier?  Maybe Jesus’ intention with the question was just to expose our short sightedness, knowing that we can’t answer the question!? I really don’t know.

But then he says “ But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins“. In my opinion this implies that the statement “‘Your sins are forgiven” is the more difficult statement. Jesus did not have to say it for the man to be healed, but he did just to inform the people around him that “the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins“.  Because my bible capitalizes Son of Man, and because Jesus’ constantly refers to himself as Son of Man, I am going to assume that Jesus is talking about himself here. Why?
Maybe because for a couple of thousand years the Israelites have been sacrificing lambs to God so that they would forgive their sins, and Jesus wanted to make it clear- the forgiveness does not come from the lamb. It comes from me. All along the lamb had just been a substitute for what was to come, Jesus Christ the Messiah.  Not the pompous emperor that the jewish people may have expected, but rather a humble man, born to be slain.  But not slain as an icon of death, but as a conqueror of death. The Son of Man has authority to forgive sins because HE is going to pay for them.

Lastly the most puzzling piece of this puzzle for me is this: “When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men“.  Is this saying what is also curiously implied in John 20:23? That we, humans, mere men- we have the power to forgive sins? Does this mean that if we forgive the sinner, he is then covered by the blood of Christ and acceptable before God on judgment day?  If that’s true then WOOT! I don’t need to preach the gospel any more, I just need to meet as many people I can and forgive them.  But that doesn’t seem right.  What about Romans 10:14 and Acts 4:12 and Eph 1:13 and Romans 1:16 and much more? Although I can’t yet justify it through scripture (therefore I won’t let it settle as theological fact) I don’t think humans in general, mere men, have the power to cleanse other people from their sin. I’m not sure how verse 8 works in regards to the authority to men, but I whatever authority it is, that is also found in John 20:23, it is beyond me.

★9:9As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. 10While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples.” I love how Jesus just sees a  tax collector, and just collects him. In this case, there are no prerequisites, no forms to fill out, no time spent talking about calling, heart issues or commitment level. Why?  Because Jesus is the one who causes us to change.  Jesus did not need to ask Matthew if he felt called, because Jesus was right there himself doing the calling. Jesus didn’t need to do a couple of interviews to see if Matthew had a heart right with God, because Jesus himself was right there. As long as Jesus was willing to have Matthew, or anybody, it was going to happen! There is no doubt when Jesus calls Matthew whether or not he is “usable” for ministry.  Not because Matthew is just dripping ministry experience and competency, it is because of the power in Jesus to transform and work whatever he wills through the life, heart and mind of who ever he calls. PRAISE THE LORD

11When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” 12On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’a For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Praise the merciful Father in heaven for this! A picture of the perfect prince of peace seeking a miserable sinner as a disciple, seeking the broken people to be his kingdom.  This is very good news for me!  Oh God how lost I am without you.  How broken and miserable I am without the healer!
At the time the Pharisees may have scratched their heads and said, “Surely this can’t be the Messiah if he says he has not come for the righteous!? I thought the Messiah was meant for all of Israel, isn’t he?” Well yes Pharisees, he is.  You see by saying, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Jesus is reminding us we are all unwell without the fullness in Christ. And by saying “For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” he is reminding us that ALL of us are sinners.  ALL OF US!  Even those who appear to be most righteous- our righteousness is not enough to please a perfect and holy God. But how about this part in the middle, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” I think this is Jesus saying to us; “Do you think I like the pouring of blood of innocent lambs everyday? Do you think I get some sort of satisfaction for seeing the innocent slaughtered for the guilty? NO! I have no desire for a sacrifice! Rather I desire mercy!  I don’t want blood, I want forgiveness, (*but if blood is the price of forgiveness I myself will pay it.  I myself am the only one worthy to cover the sins of men*)

★9:35Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Here sis a great summary of Jesus’s ministry; Teaching, preaching the gospel, healing, compassion, pastoral, [evangelism & prayer (v.37-38)]

★9:37Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” What encouragement. Last night this verse popped into my head in a context I had never thought of before. Because of my work situation with mum at the moment, there have been some times where I am working like a mad man trying to get things done asap, and other times when I am sitting around looking for work thinking to myself “there is not enough work to be done to justify me being here”.  Now apply that situation to what Jesus is saying; if the harvest is plenty and the workers are few, there should never be a moment when I am sitting around doing nothing, I should always have enough work in the field of evangelism to keep me hopping! Father, you are a good, the best boss!  Please help me to discern the work that you have for me to do, and the means by which I must do it so that I can honour you as my boss!

Continue to Matthew Chapter 10 ➜

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