Matthew 9

1 Granting their request, Jesus left the territory. When people ask God to leave them alone, He just might do what they ask. However, judgement will be even more distressful for people who had direct contact with God but refused to listen and obey.
2 The people who brought the paralytic had faith in Jesus and they were rewarded. Jesus' pronouncement was not to heal the body first, but to heal the spirit. Since this is Jesus' response to the man's faith, the paralytic may have been satisfied with this.
3 However, the religious leaders considered it an offense against God for a "mere man" to forgive sins. They did not realize that it was God in the person of Jesus who forgave the man's sins.
4 Jesus, with divine omniscience, knew what the men were thinking, and He called their thoughts evil. We might protest that the men were only reacting based on what they could see. However, Jesus had performed other miracles and had taught extensively, so the men were judging and condemning Jesus despite the evidence of His divine nature.
5 The forgiveness of sins is abstract, and we do not always "feel" like anything has really happened when our sins are forgiven. Likewise, we may not see any immediate change in another person after they are forgiven. However, Jesus was ready to back up His authority to forgive sins with a physical miracle that they could verify themselves.
7 This is faith in action. Jesus spoke the command, and when the man believed Jesus, he did as he was commanded. We may feel incapable when Jesus tells us to leave a particular sin or perform a specific act. However, if we will take the first step of faith, He will empower us to do it. Jesus will never ask us to do something and then not give us the power to accomplish it.
8 We can know when someone is doing God's work when God is glorified. However, the miracle did not accomplish its primary purpose of convincing the people that Jesus was God. Divine grace and power were flowing from Jesus, but the people were still blind to the fact that Jesus was no mere man.
9 Up to this point, Matthew had been among the curious crowds watching Jesus. Matthew's full time job was to collect taxes from the people. The Jews despised tax collectors because they represented Rome's military rule over them. Tax collectors were recruited from among the Jews, and were thus considered traitors. In addition, tax collectors made money by charging people more than the actual tax and the taxed considered them thieves. Despite all this, Jesus chose Matthew to be one of His followers. As has often been the case, God seems to choose the least likely people to represent Him.

Matthew was willing to leave his well paying job immediately to follow Jesus. Even if he did not recognize Jesus as God yet, he knew there was something about Jesus that he could trust and follow. If we are called by God to do a particular thing, we need to obey immediately, even if we do not fully know what we are getting into.

10 Matthew threw himself a retirement party and invited all his friends. Matthew's circle of friend comprised of many people that were outcasts who were known to be sinners. Despite this, Matthew was not embarrassed to introduce them to Jesus. Likewise, Jesus did not refrain from meeting with them and talking with them.

For many people, when they come to know Jesus, they become afraid to introduce Him to friends and family. We tend to blame this on our fear of rejection. However, when we do this, we withhold the best news ever. Is it not worth it to be rejected 99 times if even one person you know comes to know Jesus? Yes, indeed yes!

11 Now the Pharisees did not like this at all. They had already rejected Jesus as God, and were now attempting to dissuade others from following Him. Notice that they did not confront Jesus, but His disciples. They were deliberately trying to discourage the disciples by pointing out that their Teacher associated Himself with people with disreputable and non-religious people.
12 However, when Jesus heard the questioning, He was not afraid to confront His attackers. The response is very straightforward: when a person realizes they are physically sick, they go seek a physician. Likewise, when people realize they are spiritually sick, they will seek God. These sinners around Jesus knew they needed the forgiveness and direction that He provided. The Pharisees, however, felt they were good enough already, so they did not seek God.
13 Those who already think they are righteous will not turn to God. The religious leaders felt that their ritualized religion was all they needed to get to heaven. They did not recognize that the Scriptures said that their rituals could do nothing for them -- God alone can bring people into heaven (Isa 64:6).
14 The disciples of John probably went without food to express their remorse over sin. The Pharisees fasted three times a week to show others how religious they were. However, Jesus' disciples did not ever have such special observances. Others wanted to know why.
15 Jesus likens His presence to that of a groom before his wedding. It was a time of celebration, not of sadness. Both the Pharisees and John's disciples were missing out on the celebration that they should have been attending.However, in an unhappy twist, the groom will temporarily leave the wedding feast, and those attending will stop celebrating until he returns.
16 Jesus then compares His teaching with old and new cloth. Jesus was going to establish a new promise between men and God. This new promise was not to be merely a patch on the older promises. Instead, it was to take on a whole new form.
18 This section is a summarized account of the same event that is recorded in Mark 5:22-43 and Luke 8:41-56. Mark records that this was a synagogue ruler named Jairus (Mark 5:21-22). Jairus obviously had a different heart towards Jesus than most of the religious leaders of the day. While they opposed Jesus and accused Him of being possessed by a demon, Jairus recognized Him as God and worshiped Him even before His request was granted.

Jairus' daughter was at the point of death when he left his home to find Jesus, and he later received word that she had died while he was away. He recognized Jesus as the only hope that his only daughter would live.

19 Jesus' disciples were constantly with Him during His ministry. There was a lesson to be learned in everything that Jesus did, so they were sure to follow Him wherever He went.
20 The flow of blood would have made her ceremonially unclean (Lev 15:19-30). For twelve years, she was excluded from most community and family activities. She would not have even been able to enjoy her marital relationship. Undoubtedly, this made her lonely and ashamed. She had desperately tried to find relief by visiting doctors (Mark 5:26), but they were not able to help her. Only God could heal her and end her misery.
21 Her faith in Jesus was commendable, but she still needed to learn something about the character of God. She believed, and to a certain extent was correct, that God's power could rest upon objects and from there be transferred to a person (see other examples in Acts 19:12 and 2 Ki 13:21). However, God is not satisfied with people simply benefiting from His power. He wants to have a relationship with them. Both Mark and Luke describe how Jesus called for the woman to reveal herself so that the miracle would glorify God and not be secret.
22 Another point that Jesus wants to make clear is that it was her faith in Him that lead to healing, not her faith in touching His garment. He had to point this out publicly, which may have embarrassed her, but the healing she received, and her better acquaintance with God, would make her happier than she had ever been.
23 While Jesus had taken time to heal the woman, Jairus' daughter had died and the professional mourners were already wailing loudly. It was customary for people to higher professionals to mourn and draw community attention to the family's loss.
24 Jesus gives them a shock by indicating that the girl was not dead. Jesus refers to death as similar to sleep, as is often done elsewhere in the Bible. In light of the resurrection, death is a temporary state similar to how normal sleep is a temporary (albeit daily) state in life.

The mourners knew that the girl was dead, so they mocked Jesus' "uninformed" proclamation to the contrary. It was obvious that they had no idea how God's presence can change any situation to the better.

25 With just a few witnesses, Jesus brought the girl back to life. He would prove again on other occasions that He has power for life that is greater than the power of death. His ultimate example was His own resurrection.
26 Of course, an amazing miracle like this could not go unnoticed. Jesus' fame spread, but this did not mean that everyone believed Jesus was the Son of God and the Messiah. The miracles were wondrous, but miracles do not impart faith. Only a person willing to submit to God can see Jesus for who He really is.

It is also important to note that this section involves females, both young and old. The Bible (or God) is often criticized for being male-centered. While it is generally true that God appoints males to leadership roles, this is not an indicator that women are any less important or any less able to attain salvation through faith.

27 Perhaps just having heard that Jesus had raised the dead girl to life, the two blind men realized that Jesus could do the relatively simple task of restoring their site. They appeal to Jesus as the son of David, recognizing His lineage, right to the throne of Israel, and His being the Messiah. Most likely poor, they appeal to Jesus for mercy, knowing they have nothing to give in return.
28 Jesus apparently did not respond immediately, but He went on to the place He was staying knowing that they would catch up with Him there. For the men's part, they had to persist in faith until God was ready to act on their behalf.

The common thread in most of Jesus' healings is the faith of the recipient. Situations like this gave the recipient the chance to testify about their faith, and allow God to receive recognition for the miracle that takes place.

30 The men were rewarded according to their faith and were healed of their blindness.

While Jesus made them declare their faith before Him, He did not want the knowledge of this miracle to be widespread. Jesus worked many miracles and used them to prove His authority as the Messiah, but as more people came for healing, the less time there was to teach them about the more important spiritual matters.

31 However, the men focused more on their joy of being healed rather than their need to be obedient to Jesus.
33 Apparently there were others in Israel who cast out demons (Mat 12:27, Acts 19:13), but Jesus wielded a spiritual authority that these others did not have and performed many other miracles besides this.
34 The Pharisees refused to believe that Jesus was God, the Son of God, or the Messiah, so they invented an alternative explanation for Jesus' ability to cast out demons. They figured that rulers among the demons would have the authority to tell lower ranking demons to leave a body. Jesus does not answer the accusation immediately, but does so in Mat 12:24-32.
35 Jesus was not hindered by the Pharisees' false accusations. He continued His ministry of teaching and healing. Likewise, when Christians are falsely accused, they should not give up hope, but should continue to do the work that God has called them to do.
36 The religious leaders of the day were mostly legalistic and self-righteous. Because of their selfish attitudes, the people were left untaught and uncounseled. They had religion, but they did not know God. This left them wandering spiritually, not knowing where to find the answers they needed. In many churches today, the leadership may read the Bible and talk about it, but they do not encourage people to apply what they learn to their lives. When people do not see God at work in their church, they may look for alternative sources to give their lives meaning and power. Unfortunately, they will find that these other sources are of no eternal help to them either, even if they seem to fill the needs of the moment. Although such things displease Him, God feels pity and compassion for people in these situations because He loves them and wants them to know Him.
37 God's answer to this problem is to raise up leadership from among the people. God calls people to share in His continuing labor to make Him known to those who have no knowledge of Him. The goal is for people to establish a loving relationship with God that will last past the person's death and into eternity.
38 The workers are few in number because not everyone has the faith or the spiritual gifts required to tell others about God. However, when people submit to Him and pray, He is able to transform them into faithful workers for Him. When people trust in Him, He gives them the ability they need to carry on His ministry to the world.