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More Healing

Four more healing miracles that reveal the identity and purpose of Jesus.

Written by David Steltz on .

Notes

Introduction

We’re continuing on in Matthew chapter 9 today. I’m going to take us all the way to the end of the chapter, which will wrap up this narrative theme, this section, that describes Jesus healing and performing miracles.

In both chapters 8 and 9 we have seen Jesus performing several different miracles, most of them being the healing of people, both physically and spiritually. Relieving people of sickness and disease, and casting out demons.

Outline

Let’s quickly review what’s happened so far in these two chapters.

Chapter 8 Starts out with several healings:

  • 8:1 – Leper cleansed.
  • 8:5 – Centurion’s daughter healed.
  • 8:14 – Peter’s mother-in-law healed.
  • 8:16 – Many others healed.

Then in verse 17, Matthew points out how Jesus is fulfilling one of the messianic prophesies of Isaiah.

​Isaiah 53:4 CSB
4 Yet he himself bore our sicknesses, and he carried our pains; but we in turn regarded him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.

8:23 – Calming the storm.

A little later, Jesus wants to cross to the other side of the lake, and out in the middle of the lake he demonstrates his authority even over the winds and the seas by calming a storm that threatened to kill them all. This is the one miracle in this section that is not some kind of healing, but it’s significant in demonstrating his authority on Earth.

8:28 – Demon possessed men.

As soon as he gets to the other side, though, he’s met by demon possessed men, who confront him, and Jesus drives the demons out.

That makes the whole town want Jesus to go away, they beg him to leave their region! So, Jesus gets back into the boat and crosses over again, ending up in his own town.

9:1 – Paralytic healed, and sins forgiven.

There, a paralytic is brought to him, and Jesus declares his sins to be forgiven! This is again a statement of divine authority, which the scribes and pharisees take to be blasphemy. Then Jesus heals the paralytic, who gets up and walks away, which gives weight, gives proof to the even more important truth of Jesus’s spiritual authority.

Throughout these stories of healing there are also some other pieces of narrative peppered in there, like Jesus explaining the cost of discipleship, how significant a commitment it is to follow him. And the calling of Matthew, who does choose to leave his station as a tax collector in order to follow Jesus. And the Pharisees getting all twisted out of sorts at pretty much everything Jesus does and says.

Last week, we looked at verses 14-17, where Jesus is addressing a question from John the Baptist’s disciples about why they fast and Jesus’s disciples don’t. Jesus explains that his presence among his disciples is cause for joy and celebration, so it would not be appropriate to fast at that time. However, he also predicts the time will come when they will fast when he is taken away from them.

We keep getting these repeated opportunities where Jesus is explaining himself, who he is, and his purpose in the world. Matthew is again and again pointing to both the deity of Jesus and his fulfillment of messianic promises.

Passage

That brings us to verse 18, which beings with “As he was telling them these things...” So, we can picture Jesus talking to John’s disciples, explaining himself to them, teaching them, and the implication is that he’s kind of interrupted by what happens next. So, keep that in mind is we continue into this passage. Jesus just made a very bold claim, equating himself with God, and we’re told that Jesus’s disciples follow him to the next location, but I have to imagine that at least some of John’s disciples would have followed him too, to see what happened next.

Let’s read:

​Matthew 9:18–38 CSB
18 As he was telling them these things, suddenly one of the leaders came and knelt down before him, saying, “My daughter just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 So Jesus and his disciples got up and followed him. 20 Just then, a woman who had suffered from bleeding for twelve years approached from behind and touched the end of his robe, 21 for she said to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I’ll be made well.” 22 Jesus turned and saw her. “Have courage, daughter,” he said. “Your faith has saved you.” And the woman was made well from that moment. 23 When Jesus came to the leader’s house, he saw the flute players and a crowd lamenting loudly. 24 “Leave,” he said, “because the girl is not dead but asleep.” And they laughed at him. 25 After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. 26 Then news of this spread throughout that whole area. 27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” 28 When he entered the house, the blind men approached him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I can do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” 29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.” 30 And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus warned them sternly, “Be sure that no one finds out.” 31 But they went out and spread the news about him throughout that whole area. 32 Just as they were going out, a demon-possessed man who was unable to speak was brought to him. 33 When the demon had been driven out, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowds were amazed, saying, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel!” 34 But the Pharisees said, “He drives out demons by the ruler of the demons.” 35 Jesus continued going around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.”

Four Miracles of Healing

Alright, this passage describes four more miracles, all of healing and restoration. And it’s kind of like one thing leads to another, right? 

Here’s an outline of the whole thing:

Overview

  • 9:18 – Synagogue leader’s daughter raised from dead.
  • 9:20 – Woman with bleeding healed.
  • 9:27 – Two blind men healed.
  • 9:32 – Demon possessed mute man.
  • 9:35 – Summary and transition.
  • 9:18 – Synagogue Leader’s Daughter

He’s talking to John’s disciples, then “suddenly” this guy comes and kneels before him asking Jesus to bring back his daughter, who just died. 

9:20 – Woman with bleeding

And it’s on his way to the daughter that the woman suffering from bleeding is healed. 

Then he gets to the daughter and resurrects her. 

9:27 – Two blind men

Then, “as he goes on from there” he’s followed by two blind men who get their sight restored. 

9:32 – Mute man

Then, “just as they were going out” another guy is brought to him who can’t speak, he’s mute, because he’s possessed by a demon. Once Jesus casts out the demon, he can speak again.

The way it’s written makes it seem like everything happened one after another, almost all at once, like Jesus didn’t even have time to take a breath between healings!

And, of course, the pharisees continue to be bothered by everything he does, and find reasons to accuse him of being evil.

9:35 – Summary and transition.

The last four verses of this chapter are kind of a summary, and a transition into the next section of the narrative. We’re told that Jesus continued to heal people throughout all the towns and villages, and that he continued to teach. Healing and teaching, healing and teaching, that’s how Jesus’s ministry is being characterized here, and Matthew is just giving us little snippets, little glimpses into what those healings and teachings were like, because obviously he couldn’t record every single moment, but he’s giving us an idea of what it was like.

Now, let’s look at each one of these healings a bit more closely.

Dead Daughter

Starting with the deceased girl, even though technically the bleeding woman was healed first, we’ll look at this leader’s daughter first.

The man who approaches Jesus is simply referred to as “one of the leaders” or “one of the rulers,” an “official,” referring to one of the leaders of the synagogue. Someone of significance and authority within the context of the Jewish religious system.

I think it’s really cool when we see that there were some members of the religious elite who went against the grain, who defied the status quo of contempt towards Jesus. We see that in a handful of cases, and in this particular example it’s possible he was motivated purely by desperation, willing to try anything to save his daughter.

Even if that were the case I think it’s cool that he was willing to seek out Jesus, kneel before him, and ask for help.

But, the focus of this story is not on this leader, or even his daughter, the focus is on Jesus and what he does. Matthew doesn’t even give us the name of this guy, even though he was a prominent figure in the community, because who his identity has no bearing on the point of the story. What matters to Matthew is who Jesus is.

That being said, I’m the type of person who likes to know every detail I can, even if it doesn’t matter!

Anyone else like that, or is it just me?

Well, it seems Luke was more of that persuasion as well…we reference Luke a lot to fill in the details, because part of his goal in compiling his gospel account was to provide all the details he could find. And, yes, Luke gives us the name of this leader, in Luke chapter 8:

​Luke 8:40–42 CSB
40 When Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him. 41 Just then, a man named Jairus came. He was a leader of the synagogue. He fell down at Jesus’s feet and pleaded with him to come to his house, 42 because he had an only daughter about twelve years old, and she was dying. While he was going, the crowds were nearly crushing him.

So there you go, for those of you who like to know everything that doesn’t matter, this dude’s name was Jairus. 

Luke also gives us the detail of the girl’s age, that she was about 12 years old, and that actually is kind of interesting, because he also tells us that the woman who suffered from bleeding had suffered for 12 years, and the number 12 is significant in Hebrew scripture. Not that you should read too much into it, but at the least it provides poetically parallel imagery.

What’s really significant, though, is the fact that this girl was dead, and Jesus brought her back to life!

Nobody since the prophet Elisha has done this! And this is the first time in Matthew that we’re seeing Jesus definitively demonstrate his power and authority, even over death.

We know she was really dead, because otherwise there would not be mourners and flute players already present. This is indicative of funeral practices actually commanded in the Mishna.

The Mishna was “supplemental” law, not laws directly given to Moses, that would be Torah. Mishna is a set of rules that religious leaders developed over time in order to codify and regulate observance of Torah.

In one section of Mishnah, in a division entirely devoted to women, it states that a father is responsible for his daughter until she is twelve and a half. This meant he was responsible to take care of her, ransom her, and to bury her if she died. In Ketubot 4:4-G it says:

​The Mishnah Ketubot
But he is liable to maintain her, and to ransom her, and to bury her.
G      R. Judah says, “Even the poorest man in Israel should not hire fewer than two flutes and one professional wailing woman.”

So, very different from funeral practices in our culture! Hut hiring professional flute players and mourners was synonymous with grief and loss at funerals in their culture. But that wouldn’t happen until after the death of someone, not before.

Besides that, the crowd knows very well that she’s dead, and laugh at Jesus when he says she’s not dead, but asleep, in verse 24.

So…why did he say that? If she was really dead, why did he say she was asleep?

It could be that Jesus was alluding to the fact that everyone who dies will come back to life, implying that the physical “death” of our bodies is a temporary state from which we will be awakened.

Paul, in 1 Thessalonians, uses similar language:

1 Thessalonians 4:13–14 CSB
13 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

He’s not saying we shouldn’t grieve the loss of loved ones, just that we shouldn’t grieve like those who have no hope. We know that “loss” in this life is only temporary loss, so while we still grieve, it is not grief without hope.

In the case of this girl, Jesus provides that hope imminently as a demonstration of who he is what what he came to do.

Something else that’s significant about this particular is that Jesus touched a dead body. That, according to the law of Moses, not just Mishna, would make him unclean, which is not a sin, but would disqualify him from entering God’s presence in the temple, and from having contact with anyone else until clean again.

Numbers 19:11 CSB
11 “The person who touches any human corpse will be unclean for seven days.

However, this is another instance, like with the leper, of Jesus reaching in to what was unclean and making it "clean." Jesus does not become unclean by touching a dead body. He is not the one that is affected, he affects the change. 

This is a beautiful statement of his deity, and the impact of his presence on Earth.

Bleeding Woman

In fact, this is the second time he’s done this just in these few verses, because the same would have been true of the bleeding woman. We don’t know the exact nature of her condition, but based on the context it’s very likely that it would have left her perpetually unclean, and would render anything she touched unclean!

Leviticus 15:25 CSB
25 “When a woman has a discharge of her blood for many days, though it is not the time of her menstruation, or if she has a discharge beyond her period, she will be unclean all the days of her unclean discharge, as she is during the days of her menstruation.

Think about that! That means that for 12 years, she would not have been able to enter the temple to worship with her people. Numbers 19:20 says of someone who enters the temple unclean:

​Numbers 19:20 CSB
20 But a person who is unclean and does not purify himself, that person will be cut off from the assembly because he has defiled the sanctuary of the Lord. The water for impurity has not been sprinkled on him; he is unclean.

The Mishnah takes it a step further than just cutting them off from the assembly. In Jesus’s day, the penalty for entering the temple while unclean was severe. Mind you, this part was NOT part of the original law, but part of the Mishnah, again to help enforce the law, they came up with penalties ranging from forty lashes to death by stoning!

And yet she had faith that if she even touched the end of his robe, that Jesus would not be made unclean, rather she would be made clean by him. And her faith was not  in vain. She was healed, immediately!

And that moment of this woman’s physical affliction being healed would impact her far beyond the physical implications…it would reconcile her to her community and her relationship with God!

What a beautiful thing!

She’s terrified when she’s discovered, but Jesus doesn’t scold her, in face he calls her daughter! This is the only time Jesus refers to a woman as daughter. And it’s right before he brings that ruler’s daughter back to life! It’s almost like he’s in this empathetic, compassionate father mindset. And as much as he likes to refer to God as father, and he models submission to the Father, he also in another sense claims equality with the Father, and claims those who have faith in him as his children on behalf of the Father.

Blind Men

Alright, let’s move on to the next scene: the two blind men. Let’s read this part again:

Matthew 9:27–31 CSB
27 As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” 28 When he entered the house, the blind men approached him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I can do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” 29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.” 30 And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus warned them sternly, “Be sure that no one finds out.” 31 But they went out and spread the news about him throughout that whole area.

Son of David

Somehow, these two guys manage to follow Jesus, and they cry out to him for mercy, calling him “Son of David.”

This is the first time in Matthew that we’ve seen that title for Jesus since the very first verse, Matthew 1:1, where Matthew introduces his genealogy:

​Matthew 1:1 CSB
1 An account of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:

This is a title with inherently messianic implications. It’s why Matthew intentionally uses it in verse 1, and it reveals the faith of these two blind men that Jesus is in fact the Messiah.

The incredible irony here is that these two blind men see Jesus much more clearly than the Scribes and Pharisees who have perfectly working eyes, but are utterly blind to who Jesus really is!

The fact that he does in fact heal them shows that their faith was not misplaced, and he is, in fact, the messiah!

Faith

Jesus asks them if they believe, they say “Yes, Lord,” he touches their eyes, and says “Let it be done according to your faith.”

Matthew, more than any other gospel writer, emphasizes the importance of faith in Jesus’ healing ministry. When he asks them “Do you believe I have the power to do this?” Jesus is probing their faith in his power as Messiah.

As Mike brought up a few weeks ago, this is NOT because faith is essential, or even a prerequisite to Jesus’ power to heal. But it IS significant in the spiritual experience of the one being healed. It’s not that Jesus is testing to see if they have enough faith to deserve healing, he’s coaching them towards embracing a level of faith that brings more than just physical redemption. 

Through faith, healing becomes more than a physical experience; it becomes “salvation.” Of course Jesus already knows the answer, and their faith has already been shown in the way they addressed him! So Jesus is doing this to draw the men into the experience, and to help them affirm in no uncertain terms their confidence in him. 

Silence

And then…he tells them…sternly, no less, not to tell anyone about it!

But how on earth could they stay silent?!? To be blind one moment, and see the next, there is no way to contain that kind of wonder and joy!

At this point in his ministry, Jesus was trying to keep his reputation as low-key as possible. Jesus told them NOT to let people find out about him, and I’m not sure if he actually expected them to be able to follow that, but either way, this whole keeping silent thing didn’t last much longer anyway!

Eventually, he commissioned his disciples to spread the word to all the world, and that’s the same mission we have! But are we overflowing with the joy of what Jesus has done for us, or are we reluctant to even mention it to others?

I think that’s part of the irony and the application for this passage, but I think we’ll get more into that topic next week.

Demon-Possessed Man

For now, lets move on to the last miraculous healing: the demon-possessed man.

It says that just as the blind men were leaving, this other man was brought to him. And the nature of his affliction was such that he could not speak at all. He was mute.

When Jesus evicts the demon, suddenly the man can speak again!

In this case, this is an overtly spiritual healing rather than physical, and demonstrates again his authority over both heaven and earth, physical and spiritual realms.

It also, again, reinforces his identity as Messiah.

Together, these last two healings can be directly related to another messianic prophesy in Isaiah:

Isaiah 35:5–6 CSB
5 Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 6 Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy, for water will gush in the wilderness, and streams in the desert;

Jesus brought ALL of the healing described in this prophecy, and two of them right in a row, seemingly on his doorstep.

You’d think the people who were experts in the law and the prophets would see what’s going on here, right?

And yet, they try to explain away his authority to cast out demons by essentially accusing him of being demonic himself! This will come up again later on, and he’ll shut that argument down, in chapter 12, as really pretty silly.

I’ll go ahead and just read this passage briefly, we may touch on it more in depth in a few weeks:

Matthew 12:25–30 CSB
25 Knowing their thoughts, he told them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is headed for destruction, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons drive them out? For this reason they will be your judges. 28 If I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 How can someone enter a strong man’s house and steal his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house. 30 Anyone who is not with me is against me, and anyone who does not gather with me scatters.

What they SHOULD see is that everything he’s doing are signs of the arrival of God’s kingdom as described in Isaiah.

In fact, when John the Baptist’s disciples ask point-blank if he’s the Messiah, he answers with this, and I know I’m jumping ahead but he says this in chapter 11:

Matthew 11:4–6 CSB
4 Jesus replied to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, those with leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news, 6 and blessed is the one who isn’t offended by me.”

Summary & Transition

Verses 35-36 in some ways conclude this whole series of healings, by telling us these stories and teachings are by no means comprehensive, that he continued to heal and teach and preach all throughout the region. And that he was motivated by compassion, that he saw them as lost and wandering and in need of care, like a merciful loving shepherd wanting to gather his flock.

And then the last two verses of this chapter, 37-38, really set up the topic of the next chapter. Jesus is doing incredible things, but he’s just one person! He’s going to recruit more workers to participate in his mission of gathering the flock, of reaping the harvest.

Conclusion

Over these last two chapters, we have seen Jesus demonstrate power over sickness and disease, creation and the forces of nature, claim forgiveness of sins, and even reverse the consequences of sin, which is death.

Jesus, when he comes into contact with impurity, corruption, darkness, and death, is not overcome or infected by it. Unlike other humans, when he touches impurity, he is not made impure, that which he touches is made pure. He does not become infected by disease, rather he infects the darkness with light.

And, like a holy virus of purity and light, he is going to replicate and spread through his disciples, to spread and saturate the whole world with life and light! That’s what he’s alluding to at the end of chapter 9, and what he’ll start to put in motion in chapter 10.

Matthew has intentionally included this collection of stories and specific maladies that were healed to make it abundantly evident that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, and Jesus, in his words and actions has made it abundantly evident that the Messiah is in fact God incarnate, Yahweh become flesh, human! Humble and vulnerable, and yet perfect and powerful, in unexpected but infinitely wonderful ways.

We’ve also seen the value and emphasis that Jesus puts on faith throughout these healings.

Again, it’s not that he will refuse to heal someone if they don’t have enough faith, or that as long as someone has enough faith they can be healed. 

Jesus offered physical healing out of compassion and to demonstrate his power in a tangible way, but he wants to turn our attention to the much more significant spiritual healing that he offers. He does often provide comfort in many ways in the short term, but his primary mission is to save people and give them life for eternity.

He is THE way, truth, and life; there is NO way to the Father except through Him. He wants what’s best for us, he wants us to be in the truth, the life, the light, he wants us to thrive in the warm embrace of the Father, and that’s why he so adamantly draws people to place their faith in Him.

My hope is that all of us here have in fact done that, have placed our faith in Jesus. If you haven’t, and you’d like to, or would like to know more, please talk to one of us about it, we’d love to share what Jesus has done in our lives and why it’s important to us.

Of course, choosing to follow Jesus is just the first step. We’ll look a little bit into what’s next for those who follow Jesus, at least at that point in his ministry, next week.


More Healing

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NCF was started in 1987 to minister to the growing population of Fort Drum and Jefferson County. Located in Carthage, just minutes away from Ft Drum, Lowville and Watertown, it is a blended congregation of local and military folks, single soldiers, young families and grandparents.