Matthew 10:16-26 A Time Of Revelation.
The apostles, and indeed all the followers of Jesus, are as sheep among the wolves of the world. There are those who are hell bent on silencing the gospel and all those who bear it. We need the cunning of a snake, but the seeming harmlessness of doves (v. 16). There were men among their own countrymen, whom the apostles were to be mindful of, who would resist the gospel to the point of seeking their arrest and punishment (v. 17). Both Jew and Gentile would oppose them (v. 18). The apostles had a unique mission as the bearers of the new covenant scriptures. To this end the Spirit would give to them the words they were to preach and teach (vv. 19-20). The gospel message was one that would set family members against each other, even to delivering one up to die (v. 21).
They would be hated, but all who endured to the end would be saved. Part of the good news was that his people would be preserved to the end. Persecution would be a means of their moving on to another city, until the Son of Man would come to finally put an end to the old covenant era (vv. 22-23). They, and all who follow Jesus hereafter, cannot expect to be treated any better than was he, for a disciple is not above their master (vv. 24-25a). Since many believed that Jesus had his power from Satan, his disciples should not think themselves to be regarded as any different than he (v. 25b). However, since he promised them perseverance to the end, they need not fear. There was coming a time of great revelation, when all that was hidden heretofore, would be made known (v. 26).
Matthew 10:1-15 The Apostolic Mission.
Jesus gave his apostles the power to do what he had been doing – casting out demons and healing the sick. Even Judas is included, which shows that one can have this power without knowing the Lord in a saving way. Jesus’ approach at this time was to go only to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (v. 6). It was a time of transition, the last days of the old covenant era. The kingdom of heaven was at hand, with the coming of the promised Messiah (v. 7). In addition to casting out demons and healing the sick, they were given power to raise the dead (v. 8). This was real labour for the apostles, so they were to be sustained by the church for this work (vv. 9-10). Anyone who greeted them with this help were to be blessed with peace, but any who would not receive the gospel were not to enjoy this peace (vv. 11-13). To reject the gospel message was to be guilty of a covenantal cure, demonstrated with a shaking off of one’s feet from what would be unclean (vv. 14-15).
Matthew 9:35-38 Shepherds Needed.
Jesus went about teaching, preaching, and healing among the people (v. 35). “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (v. 36). Jesus is the Great Shepherd, but in his earthly incarnate ministry he could only be in one place at one time. It is important to notice that there were three key things that were involved in shepherding the flock – teaching, preaching, and healing. Although ministers today do not perform works of direct physical healing, they are engaged in spiritual healing, or should be. In many ways this kind of healing is much more challenging to see positive results. If one is healed instantly of a physical ailment, then the outcome is obvious, but with spiritual healing it takes time to see change happening for the individual and community.
There is another important point to glean from this passage, and that is the reality that it takes a shepherd to lead and guide a flock. There were multitudes of people that were gathered around Jesus so that it was impossible for him to personally attend to each individual. Today one might conceive of one man preaching to huge crowds, and perhaps even teaching, but it would not have the same impact of a more intimate connection, such as is also necessary for healing. For this reason Jesus empowered the apostles to go out and perform the same works as he was doing, only they would do so in his name, not their own. The harvest is still plentiful, and the labourers are still few (v. 37). This must still be a matter of prayer, that the Lord would continue to raise up shepherds to teach, preach, and heal in his name to the whole world.
Matthew 9:32-34 A Demon Possessed Mute Man Speaks.
It would be one thing to be demon possessed, but to not be able to voice one’s suffering would have been doubly hard (v. 32). If the man was able to speak we may imagine that the demon would confess that it knew who Jesus was and was afraid, as happened in other cases. In any case, the fact that the man was able to speak was a testimony itself to his deliverance. There is little doubt that a person’s own personal testimony is a powerful witness to Jesus as the Christ, which is brought into sharp focus when a mute man speaks, and the people who knew him all along were amazed (v. 33). More amazing still is the obstinacy of the Pharisees, who accused Jesus of healing the man by the power of the Devil (v. 34). However, as Jesus will say a little later, it made no sense for Satan to destroy his own little fiefdom (12:22ff.).
Matthew 9:27-31 Two Blind Men Are Healed.
Not being blind, one can only imagine the challenge these two blind men faced, but for them it was their once in a lifetime hope. They had each other, but they wanted their sight, and they believed that Jesus could give that to them (vv. 27-28 Cf. 20:29-34; Mk. 10:46ff.; Lk. 18:38-39). According to their faith they were healed (v. 29). Obviously it was not their faith, in and of itself, that healed them, it was who they had their faith in. It seems peculiar that Jesus would instruct them to be quiet about the miracle (v. 30). He said the same thing to the leper, only that he follow the Mosaic legislation for no longer being leprous (8:4). It may have been that Jesus still had much to do before his impending death and did not want the focus taken off the redemption to come through his death and resurrection. In any case, one can well understand that these men could not keep silent (v. 31). A person who committed forgery would certainly not want the recipients to be silent.
Matthew 9:18-26 Healing And Delivering Power.
In worshipping Jesus, which Jesus did not refuse, the ruler who came to him on behalf of his sick daughter, was confessing that Jesus was both God and man, for only God is to be worshipped (v. 18 Cf. Lk. 8:41-56). This is a stupendous theological understanding and commitment, one which many stumble over to this day. He also believed that if Jesus laid his hand on his daughter that she would live. Based on the man’s faith, Jesus and his disciples arose and followed the ruler back to his home (v. 19). While they were walking there was also a woman who suffered from a continuous flow of blood, who believed if she but touched the garment of Jesus she would be healed (vv. 20-21).
From Matthew one might get the idea that Jesus spoke healing to her before she was able to touch him, but Luke records that she did touch the border of his garment and was healed. It was because she touched the border of his garment in faith, that he felt power flow out. His words were therefore words of comfort to the woman, commended for her faith, and offered peace (v. 22 Cf. Lk. 8:48). When they arrive at the ruler’s home, they found mourners wailing her death (v. 23). But for Jesus her death was only temporary, and he was thus ridiculed by the crowd v. 24). But Jesus took her by the hand the girl arose (v. 25), because he has power even over death, and this report spread through that land (v. 26).
Matthew 9:14-17 New Garments And New Wine.
Why fast? Many suggest today that there are good health reasons for fasting. In this passage it seems clear that most considered it to be a spiritual discipline, but for what purpose, or to what end? John’s disciples were wondering why Jesus’ disciples were not fasting, while they and the Pharisees were (v. 14 Cf. Lk. 5:33ff.). Jesus uses the analogy of a wedding feast, where the friends of a bridegroom celebrate rather than fast, because the bridegroom is still with them. Jesus is the bridegroom, so as long as he was with his disciples, there was cause to celebrate (Cf. Jn. 3:29). However, a time was coming when he would be taken from them, then they would fast (Cf. Acts 13:1-3; 14:23). So fasting is a kind of mourning for the absence of a close friend, and no mere outward act (v. 15 Lk. 18:12).
Jesus’ two following analogies do not appear to be as clear. Jesus seems to be saying that he is a new piece of cloth, or new wine, and that those who follow with him must also be new creatures. Simply accepting Jesus as a great teacher with some new and interesting teaching is not enough. To claim to accept Jesus in some fashion with being made new or born again, will simply break a person apart. Living by the teachings of Jesus without actually knowing him in a spiritual way, is an impossibility. Jesus came to make new garments for us, and new wine skins to hold the spiritual life that he gives to those made new. This is how we are not only saved, but are preserved to the end when we shall see him face to face (vv. 16-17). Some thought that the wine of the old covenant was better than the new (Cf. Lk. 5:39).
Matthew 9:9-13 Mercy.
If we accept that the Matthew spoken of here is the author of this epistle, it shows us a not uncommon practice of the biblical writers to speak of themselves in the third person. According then to this self-testimony, Matthew immediately left his work and station as a tax-collector and followed Jesus (v. 9 Cf. Lk. 5:27). He also was not afraid to share his home either with his friends or with Jesus, nor with them all together (v. 10 Cf. Mk. 2:15). With the words “tax collectors and sinners” one is tempted to ask ‘What is the difference?” To be sure, tax collection is not wrong per se, as support for the necessary role of government. However, both governments and individual collectors could certainly be guilty of taking more than was their due (Lk. 3:13).
Apparently the Pharisees saw their payment to foreign rule as a necessary evil, but evil nonetheless, for no distinction is made between tax collectors and sinners (v. 11 Cf. 11:19). We as fallen human beings are very adept at knowing what are our wants, but we are not so adept at knowing our needs. When this need is a spiritual one, mainly the need for repentance and faith, it is clear that regeneration is a pre-requisite. It is easier for us to know when we are physically sick (v. 12). It is not so easy for sinful pride to give way to the realization of one’s need for mercy. Outward religious acts devoid of scriptural truth are no substitute for the need to heed the Master’s call to repent and know mercy (v. 13; Hos. 6:6; I Tim. 1:15).
Matthew 9:1-8 The Power To Forgive.
Jesus spoke and the winds and waves obeyed, and he and his disciples “crossed over, and came to His own city” (v. 1). According to Matthew elsewhere, this city was Nazareth (2:23; 4:13-14 Cf. Jn. 1:45-46). We also read in John that the prophets predicted that the Messiah would be “from the town of Bethlehem” (7:42 Cf. Mic. 5:2; I Sam. 16:1-4), although not describing it as “His own city.” There does not appear to be any specific reference in the written prophets to Nazareth, although it may have been oral tradition. The passage at hand does not indicate either Nazareth or Bethlehem, but although he was born in Bethlehem, he was born there while Mary and Joseph were travelling for the census (Lk. 2:4).
The real controversy was what Jesus said to the paralytic whom he had healed. Jesus, to show that he had the divine authority to forgive sins, said to the man. “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you” (v. 2 Cf. Lk. 5:17-26). For the scribes this was blasphemous, because only God could make such a declaration (v. 3). Jesus knew what they were thinking in their hearts, and it was evil, because he is in fact God (v. 4 Cf. 12:25; Is. 43:25). The physical healing of the paralytic was a way of showing that he was a true prophet who, as God, had this authority. One thing was as easy for him to say as the other, but he said what he said so that people would “know that the son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” (vv. 5-6a).
Jesus then told the man to take up his bed and go to his house, and he did so (vv. 6b-7). What is also interesting about this story is that Jesus commends not just the faith of the man himself, but that of his friends, for Matthew says that “Jesus saw their faith” (v. 2b Cf. 8:10). There is indeed something significant when our brothers and sisters unite with us in faith believing God for a miracle, for healing and forgiveness. The crowds marvelled or were amazed that the man Jesus had such authority, and they glorified God (v. 8 Cf. Jn. 7:15). In the end, this is our chief end, to glorify God and fully to enjoy him forever (WLC). “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (I Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:17).
Matthew 8:28-34 Godly Or Demonic Cultures.
Demon possessed people often had extremely acute spiritual insight, or at least the demons within them did. They knew that a time of torment awaited them, which tells us that in residing in people they somehow found refuge. There is something grossly foreign though for demons to inhabit those made in God’s image. They were more suited to a creature who was regarded as unclean. They knew that Jesus would be happier with this move into the unclean pigs. They were hell bent on destruction, and given the end of the swine, one can only imagine the torment that these two men had been suffering. Nevertheless, their neighbours did not rejoice at their deliverance, but instead they asked Jesus to leave, no doubt because he would spell the end of their whole economic system. Their god was mammon. How much money is made in our godless cultures today because people care more about money than people made in God’s image? There are other ways to be productive and make money, but these people were comfortable, just like the demons.