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Matthew 9:32-34 – How others look at the blind, speechless and demoniac being healed

In this chapter we find Matthew attempting to present Jesus as a unique person who is the long-awaited son of David, the Messiah who performed miracles by the power of God.

File:Christ heals a demoniac; a demon is expelled into the air. E Wellcome V0034995.jpg

Christ heals a demoniac; a demon is expelled into the air.

In Matthew 4 we came already to read that reports about Jesus circulated as far as Syria and that lots of people wanted to come to see Jesus for his miracles. All sorts of ill people where also brought to Jesus, those faring badly, having a variety of diseases and afflicted with torments, the demon-possessed, the moonstruck and paralytics – so that Jesus could cure them.

in his writing of looks at this miracle worker who does not seek people’s approval so he can become their king. Marcus Ampe talking on that subject asks us also to look at Jesus who knows very well his position to be the sent one from God, the heavenly Father Who is greater than Jesus, and without Him Jesus can do nothing.

“Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (Joh 5:19 NIV)

“”You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” (Joh 14:28 NIV)

Jesus may see himself as the divinely appointed king (like Browne writes), but he is aware that it is God Who gave him this authority to take on that position. In a way, to show his position, so that people could recognise him as the Messiah and future king he uses his regal authority to remove every form of oppression from his people.

Browne asks us to look at Jesus his track record:

  • He brings lepers back into the community (8:1).

  • He helps a Roman officer who recognizes his authority (9:5-13).

  • He lifts sickness and spiritual oppression from his people (8:14-17).

  • He stills the storm that threatens his followers (8:23-27).

  • He takes someone who was financing Israel’s oppression, giving him an appointment in his own government (9:9-13).

  • He restores a dead daughter to her grieving parents (9:18-26).

  • He restores sight to blind people (9:27-31).

  • He sets free someone whose speech was bound (9:32-34). {Do you recognize the king’s authority? (Matthew 9:32-34)}

Can you imagine how people would be astonished seeing such incredible things?

ElishaRaisingShunammitesSon.jpg

Elisha raising the Shunammite’s Son, early 1900s Bible Card illustration

The crowds marvel at this concerted effort by their anointed king to release God’s people from every form of oppression. They can’t recall ever seeing anything like it. There’s been nothing like this since the exile 600 years ago. They recall the days of Elijah and Elisha when God had done astounding miracles to challenge Israel’s evil rulers like Ahab and Jezebel. They consider the days of Moses when God led them out of Egypt and created them as his nation. No, there had never been such a demonstration of divinely delegated authority: {Do you recognize the king’s authority? (Matthew 9:32-34)}

Matthew 9:33 The crowds marvelled:

“Nothing like this has ever been brought to light in Israel.”

In front of them is there that promised one from God, the son of David who would reign over God’s people in every generation (Matthew 9:27; 2 Samuel 7:16). His house and his kingdom was to be made sure forever, his throne established forever. Whilst people yearned for the Son of David to restore the kingdom to Israel (Psalm 89:49; Isaiah 9:7; Ezekiel 37:24). Now the people of Israel have a shepherd in their midst who walked in the ordinances of God. Now they could hear those who got a huge change in their life, even blind people came to “see” what Jesus was doing, and publicly proclaiming him as Israel’s long-awaited king.

The king is present. His authority — his appointment by God as ruler of his people — is evident to everyone.

Well, almost everyone. There are sour grapes:

Matthew 9:34 But the Pharisees were going,

“It’s by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.”

Later the Pharisees would repeat that it was by “Beelzebub the prince of the devils” Jesus was casting out devils.

“22  Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said,

“Could this be the Son of David?”

24 But when the Pharisees heard this, they said,

“It is only by Beelzebub, {Greek Beezeboul or Beelzeboul; also in verse 27 } the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

25 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them

“Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges.” (Mt 12:22-27 NIV)

Browne asks us to remember how

the Pharisees were upset with Jesus for hanging around with “sinners,” sharing meals with them (9:9-13). That makes Jesus unclean in their view. How could an unclean person have authority over unclean spirits? Presumably the head of the unclean spirits could tell the spirits where to go, so they figure he must be in league with Satan (9:34).

Why were the Pharisees so blind? Why couldn’t they see what was obvious to everyone else? Jesus is liberating his people from every form or oppression, across such a wide spectrum. How could they miss all the colours of God’s liberating power at work in him, and imagine that he was in league with the enemy that wanted to destroy God’s people?

The Pharisees had a certain authority over the communities of Israel (to the extent that you could say they had authority while under foreign rule). They need to quash Jesus’ authority if they don’t want to yield theirs. They must paint him as a traitor; otherwise they themselves will be seen as traitors for failing to recognize his authority.

This confrontation increases exponentially from this point. On one side stands the king appointed by God. On the other side stand the self-appointed shepherds of Israel. They accused Jesus of siding with God’s enemy, but who are the real traitors who want to bring down God’s appointed king?

The kingdom conflict has begun. Either you recognize Jesus’ authority, or you oppose him. There is no neutral ground.

What others are saying

Michael J. Wilkins, Matthew, NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004), 374:

Without eyes of faith the Pharisees cannot see beyond their parochial experience that God is doing something unique in Israel in the word and work of Jesus. So they gather their opposition to Jesus, both protecting their religious domain and thinking they are protecting the people from Jesus. This is an ominous tone, which tragically sets a trajectory for the cross that will inevitably come.

R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007), 369:

But perhaps, as this is the final crowd reaction in this anthology of works of power, we should read it as an evaluation not merely of this one exorcism but of the whole range of Jesus’ miracles which these two chapters have set out: others might perform the occasional exorcism, but this man’s ministry of deliverance is on an altogether different scale. A similarly climactic effect, but in an ominously different direction, is achieved by the Pharisees’ accusation. They do not deny Jesus’ power, but question its source. Such a total and offensive repudiation of his authority brings the growing hostility to a new level, and suggests a breach which is now irreparable.

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Preceding articles

More than just a man with authority of speaking

Nazarene Commentary Matthew 4:23-25 – Kingdom Preaching and Healing Draws Crowds

Matthew 7:13-23 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The True Disciple #5 Matthew 7:28-29 – The Crowd’s Reaction

Matthew 9:27-31 – Blind Men Healed

Matthew 9:27-31 – What others are saying about the blind men recognising the son of David

Matthew 9:32-34 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Speechless Demoniac Healed

Authority from the One God to one mediator between God and men

Hebraic Roots Bible Matthew Chapter 28

Hebrew inscriptions on ancient slab of marble near Lake Kinneret

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Additional reading

  1. The 1st Adam in the Hebrew Scriptures #8 Looking for the 2nd Adam
  2. A birthday passed nearly unnoticed
  3. A god who gave his people commandments and laws he knew they never could keep to it
  4. This is an amazing thing
  5. I can’t believe that … (3) miracles can happen
  6. Why think that (2) … Jesus claimed to be something special
  7. Truth, doubt or blindness
  8. 1,500-year-old marble tablet at the Sea of Galilee suggesting place was once a Jewish or Jewish-Christian settlement
  9. Newly-found document describing a miracle by Iēsous de Nazarenus
  10. Servant of his Father
  11. Memorizing wonderfully 31 Son of David and God’s Kingdom
  12. Marriage of Jesus 2 Standard writings about Jesus
  13. Patriarch Abraham, Muslims, Christians and the son of God
  14. Entrance of a king to question our position #1 Coming in the Name of the Lord
  15. Entrance of a king to question our position #2 Who do we want to see and to be
  16. Infinite payment of sin by the son of God
  17. Authority given to him To give eternal life
  18. Blindness in the Christian world

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Matthew 9:18-26 – What others say about Jesus knowing how to care for people

In the 9th chapter of Matthew we can see how Jesus had a busy time. It shall not stay with this first time that Jesus would be interrupted in his talks. In this story the conversation with John’s disciples about fasting gets interrupted when a powerful man or “synagogue leader” comes to kneel before the Nazarene master.

in his writing of

Notice what an unusual request is being made. Jesus is asked to bring the man’s dead daughter back to life.

Browne remembers

It’s a bold request from a community leader who understands that touching a dead body will make Jesus unclean for a week, but he’s desperate. Jesus agrees to go (8:19).

When Jesus heads for the man’s house, an other desperate person wants to cling to Jesus.

In any communal event, she isn’t given the seat of honour: she’s expected to stand in the corner away from everybody else, for anything she sits on or anyone she touches will become unclean. Lev 15:19-33 spelled this out, and the verbal traditions of the Jewish leaders were so comprehensive that they formed an entire tractate of the Mishna when written down (Zabim). She’s on the lowest rung of communal life.

File:Healing of a bleeding women Marcellinus-Peter-Catacomb.jpg

The healing of a bleeding woman, Rome, Catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter.

The woman, who had suffered from chronic bleeding for many years, and who had many treatments which did not help (Mark 5:25-28), wanted just to touch Jesus his cloak with the belief that if she could just touch his garment that she would be healed of her affliction. When she managed to try to do such an unnoticed act, Jesus noticing it, stopped and understood the fears that had made her attempt to take what she feared would have been denied her. He addresses her and

His words affirm the dignity and significance she doesn’t feel she has:

  • Instead of telling her off for touching him, he affirms her: “Be encouraged!”

  • Instead of treating her as a nuisance, he acknowledges her place in the family: “Daughter.”

  • Instead of rebuking her, he commends the confidence she placed in him: “Your faith has rescued you.”

In that action we can see how important faith in Jesus is to salvation. Not only suffering would come to an end, hope is given for a better life, even when there has been death.

Browne questions:

Now, seriously, who had the greater faith here? The woman who pushed in to get her healing? Or the ruler who believed Jesus could raise his daughter back to life? The ruler receives no such commendation for his faith. He didn’t need it. It’s the bleeding woman from the bottom rung of society whom Jesus stops to affirm. In fact, she’s the only person in Matthew’s Gospel to whom Jesus said those amazing words,

“Your faith has saved you.”

After the diversion, Jesus continued to the ruler’s house, where flute players and mourners where already making a commotion to ensure no one in the community was uninformed about their ruler’s loss (9:23). The community protocols requiring a display of grief are rather shallow: they quickly melt into laughter when Jesus suggests the girl is not dead but resting (9:24).

Jesus takes the dead girl by the hand, and raises her up. Touching the bleeding woman had not made Jesus unclean; it made her clean. Touching the corpse didn’t contaminate Jesus; it broke death’s hold on the girl. In Jesus, the defilement of the world is being undone; uncleanness and death are losing their grip.

Matthew doesn’t tell us how the girl’s parents responded. You can guess. What he declares is a kingdom statement, the news of Jesus restoring the land (9:31).

Those of us who are servants of Jesus’ kingdom could do well to meditate on how he cared across all the strata of society, and how he gave his richest encouragement to the people who needed it most.

 Open Matthew 9:18-26.

Tom Wright, Matthew for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1-15 (London: SPCK, 2004), 104–105:

Two of the things that were near the top of the list, things to avoid if you wanted to stay ‘pure’ in that sense, were dead bodies on the one hand, and women with internal bleeding (including menstrual periods) on the other. And in this double story Jesus is touched by a haemorrhaging woman, and then he himself touches a corpse.
No Jew would have missed the point — and Matthew was most likely writing for a largely Jewish audience. In the ordinary course of events, Jesus would have become doubly ‘unclean’ …
But at this point we realize that something is different. Her ‘uncleanness’ doesn’t infect him. Something in him infects her.

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Preceding articles

Matthew 9:14-17 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Bridegroom and Fasting

Matthew 9:14-17 – What others are saying about feasting at the sinners’ table instead of fasting for God’s table

Matthew 9:18-26 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: On the Way to Raise a Ruler’s Daughter a Woman is Cured

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Matthew 9:18-26 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: On the Way to Raise a Ruler’s Daughter a Woman is Cured

Matthew 9:18-26 – On the Way to Raise a Ruler’s Daughter a Woman is Cured

|| Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:40-56

MT9:18 While Jesus was speaking these things, look! one of the rulers[1] approached him and prostrated himself by bowing to the ground,[2] telling Jesus,

“My daughter has just died but come and touch her and she will live[3] [again].”

File:Christ heals bleeding woman.jpg

Christ heals bleeding woman

MT9:19 And so Jesus rose and with his disciples he followed the ruler. MT9:20 And, look! a woman suffering from a twelve-year hemorrhage[4] approached Jesus from behind touching the fringe of his outer-garment.[5] MT9:21 She had told herself,

“If only I might just touch his outer-garment I shall be saved.”[6]

MT9:22 But, turning Jesus saw her and said,

“Courage, daughter, your faith has saved you.”

And in that hour[7] the woman was saved. MT9:23 Finally, Jesus came into the house of the ruler and when he saw the flutists and the crowd making an uproar,[8] MT9:24 he told them,

“Everyone, go outside, for the little girl is not dead[9] but sleeping.”

These people were disgusted[10] and laughed at Jesus. MT9:25 But, when the crowd was pushed outside Jesus took the hand of the little girl and she rose. MT9:26 Thus, Jesus’ fame[11] spread throughout the whole land.[12]

*

[1] Rulers: The Greek is ARCHON and is variously rendered: NASB: synagogue official; TCNT: President of a Synagogue; RIEU: one of the elders; NJB: one of the officials.

[2] Prostrated himself by bowing to the ground: The Greek is PROSEKUNEI which means to bow before and kiss the sandals or fringe of the garment. Though the KJV versions uses “worshipped” (which is much misunderstood) others render: MOF: knelt before; DIA: prostrated; NAS: bowed down; WMS: fell on his knees.

[3] Will live: The Greek is ZESETAI (Compare Revelation 20:4).

[4] Hemorrhage: The Greek is HAIMORROUSA and is variously rendered: KIT: flux of blood; KJV: issue of blood; BECK: flow of blood. Such a thing made anyone who touched her ceremonially unclean. The other accounts relate how she had spent all her money on a cure and was only made worse by the doctors. This poor soul has suffered much for a long time.

[5] Outer-garment: The Greek is HIMATIOU from which English gets “hem.” Her language indicates she must have bowed low to touch the fringe of his garment.

[6] Saved: The Greek is SOTHESOMAI and is also rendered: KJV: whole; RHM: made well; PME: I shall be all right.

[7] That hour: Possibly it would have taken her awhile to note she was no longer bleeding. By then the Nazarene would have been gone into the house of the ruler.

[8] Flutists and the crowd making an uproar: Possibly paid mourners to demonstrate the household’s grief.

[9] Not dead: Perhaps not “clinically” or somatically dead.

[10] People were disgusted: Or, laughing scornfully; BER: laughed derisively; LB: scoffed and sneered.

[11] Fame: The Greek is PHEME from which “fame” is rooted in English. It has been quite a day with more to come.

[12] Land: The Greek is GEN meaning “earth” with a range of understandings revealed by the context.

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Preceding articles

Matthew 9:14-17 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Bridegroom and Fasting

Matthew 9:14-17 – What others are saying about feasting at the sinners’ table instead of fasting for God’s table

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