Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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Scripture Passage

      Matthew - Chapter 09 (Contemporary English Version)
    1. Jesus got into a boat and crossed back over to the town where he lived.
    2. Some people soon brought to him a crippled man lying on a mat. When Jesus saw how much faith they had, he said to the crippled man, "My friend, don't worry! Your sins are forgiven."
    3. Some teachers of the Law of Moses said to themselves, "Jesus must think he is God!"
    4. But Jesus knew what was in their minds, and he said, "Why are you thinking such evil things?
    5. Is it easier for me to tell this crippled man that his sins are forgiven or to tell him to get up and walk?
    6. But I will show you that the Son of Man has the right to forgive sins here on earth." So Jesus said to the man, "Get up! Pick up your mat and go on home."
    7. The man got up and went home.
    8. When the crowds saw this, they were afraid and praised God for giving such authority to people.
    9. As Jesus was leaving, he saw a tax collector named Matthew sitting at the place for paying taxes. Jesus said to him, "Come with me." Matthew got up and went with him.
    10. Later, Jesus and his disciples were having dinner at Matthew's house. Many tax collectors and other sinners were also there.
    11. Some Pharisees asked Jesus' disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and other sinners?"
    12. Jesus heard them and answered, "Healthy people don't need a doctor, but sick people do.
    13. Go and learn what the Scriptures mean when they say, 'Instead of offering sacrifices to me, I want you to be merciful to others.' I didn't come to invite good people to be my followers. I came to invite sinners."
    14. One day some followers of John the Baptist came and asked Jesus, "Why do we and the Pharisees often go without eating, while your disciples never do?"
    15. Jesus answered: The friends of a bridegroom don't go without eating while he is still with them. But the time will come when he will be taken from them. Then they will go without eating.
    16. No one uses a new piece of cloth to patch old clothes. The patch would shrink and tear a bigger hole.
    17. No one pours new wine into old wineskins. The wine would swell and burst the old skins. Then the wine would be lost, and the skins would be ruined. New wine must be put into new wineskins. Both the skins and the wine will then be safe.
    18. While Jesus was still speaking, an official came and knelt in front of him. The man said, "My daughter has just now died! Please come and place your hand on her. Then she will live again."
    19. Jesus and his disciples got up and went with the man.
    20. A woman who had been bleeding for twelve years came up behind Jesus and barely touched his clothes.
    21. She had said to herself, "If I can just touch his clothes, I will get well."
    22. Jesus turned. He saw the woman and said, "Don't worry! You are now well because of your faith." At that moment she was healed.
    23. When Jesus went into the home of the official and saw the musicians and the crowd of mourners,
    24. he said, "Get out of here! The little girl isn't dead. She is just asleep." Everyone started laughing at Jesus.
    25. But after the crowd had been sent out of the house, Jesus went to the girl's bedside. He took her by the hand and helped her up.
    26. News about this spread all over that part of the country.
    27. As Jesus was walking along, two blind men began following him and shouting, "Son of David, have pity on us!"
    28. After Jesus had gone indoors, the two blind men came up to him. He asked them, "Do you believe I can make you well?" "Yes, Lord," they answered.
    29. Jesus touched their eyes and said, "Because of your faith, you will be healed."
    30. They were able to see, and Jesus strictly warned them not to tell anyone about him.
    31. But they left and talked about him to everyone in that part of the country.
    32. As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, some people brought to him a man who could not talk because a demon was in him.
    33. After Jesus had forced the demon out, the man started talking. The crowds were so amazed that they began saying, "Nothing like this has ever happened in Israel!"
    34. But the Pharisees said, "The leader of the demons gives him the power to force out demons."
    35. Jesus went to every town and village. He taught in their meeting places and preached the good news about God's kingdom. Jesus also healed every kind of disease and sickness.
    36. When he saw the crowds, he felt sorry for them. They were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
    37. He said to his disciples, "A large crop is in the fields, but there are only a few workers.
    38. Ask the Lord in charge of the harvest to send out workers to bring it in."

Matthew - Chapter 09

Entered: January 26, 2005
In these chapters we see Jesus forgive sins, heal a crippled man, give sight to blind men, casts out a demon, heals a woman with chronic bleeding and raise a daughter from death. In the midst of it all Jesus is challenged about what he is doing as if there is something evil about it all or about him. Then He gives His disciples the power to do these same things and sends them out in pairs to preach and work miracles. He concludes this section by saying, "Don't think that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came to bring trouble, not peace. Your worst enemies will be in your own family." This is a mystery. Jesus came with only good in mind and clearly demonstrated His power and His love. Those who were the objects of these demonstrations received Him, and those who observed questioned Him and rejected Him - at least for the most part. It is maddening to those of us who receive Christ to see how so many others reject Christ and to not even recognize the truth which seems so obvious to us.

Entered: December 07, 2009
As we come to chapter 9 we see Jesus' ministry has gained momentum. In the previous chapter Jesus' authority in four realms was highlighted. His authority over: the physical realm, the Gentiles, the spirit world, and nature. Chapter 9 adds to the list to include authority to forgive sin and to raise the dead. We also see in chapter 9 Jesus' first open opposition from the religious leaders.

More importantly, though, in the accounts of this chapter Jesus more closely defines His mission. Actually, Jesus had already defined His mission through His preaching the message, "Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!" Now, in the events of this chapter, we see Jesus putting this into practice. As with any mission, hearing of it is one thing. Seeing it in action is another. It is seeing it in action that people realize the change it brings and many decide they don't want it. This, I believe is what was happening with Jesus' ministry. It was one thing to hear Him preach of repentance and of the coming kingdom, but it was another to see Him act in ways that seemed to go against the established religious system. What He preached and what He did was not examined for its merit but for how it measured up to that system.

Why could Jesus have not worked from within the religious system? Would it not have made sense to use what was already in place? It might have made sense had the system not lost its way. But it was far from trying to "seek and to save the lost." (Luke 19:10) If He were to try to work from within the established system it would be like putting new wine in old wine skins. The skins would burst from the stress of the new wine and both would be lost. Jesus' mission was very clear - to seek and save those who were lost. It was not to save Judaism. In Jesus' mission, we also see God's mission. It is, in fact, the theme of all scripture. If we miss this, whatever religious system we establish will be as Judaism had become in Jesus' day, a burden to the people, rather than a means of salvation.

Jesus saw the crowds that thronged Him and "felt compassion for them, because they were weary and worn out, like sheep without a shepherd." This was what the religious system was doing to them.