Matthew continues relating the healing miracles of Jesus begun last chapter. But in each instance, Matthew brings out the faith or belief of the person being healed.
- The paralytic: “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic …” Mat 9:2.
- The dead daughter: “My daughter has just died, but come and lay Your hand on her and she will live,” Mat 9:18.
- The woman with the issue of blood: “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well,” Mat 9:22.
- The two blind men: “According to your faith let it be to you,” Mat 9:29.
- The demon- possessed mute (Mat 9:32-34): there is no overt mention of faith on anyone’s part, except perhaps the people who brought the mute man to Jesus. They would not have brought him, had they not believed that He would be able to do something about it.
Again in verse 35, the mention is made that Jesus healed every sickness and disease among the people – Not one disease, not one sickness, not one person, was left out. In this verse, there is no mention of faith. But by this time, His fame had spread abroad, and I believe people expected Him to be able to heal. So the Lord makes an issue of faith for a reason.
The reason is, it is a biblical principle that to receive what God has for us, we need to believe Him.
An Old Testament example, is that God brought the Israelites to the edge of the Promised Land, and told them to go in and possess it. They would not because they did not believe Him that He was able to give it to them (Num 13-14). The writer of Hebrews says they did not receive the promise because of their unbelief (Heb 3:16-19). In fact, Hebrews equates unbelief with rebellion, which is as we know, as the sin of witchcraft (1 Sam 15:23), or paganism and idolatry.
A New Testament example, is that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world (1 Joh 2:2), and it is God’s will that no one perish (2 Pet 3:9), however, we must receive the free gift of eternal life through faith in Christ Jesus (Rom 6:23, Eph 2:8-9). Those who do not believe, will not receive.
So we have seen from the last two chapters that the Lord is willing and able to heal every disease of every person, and sometimes does without regard to faith. But in the normal course of things, it is the person that believes who receives, as a biblical principle. He wants His people to believe Him and to believe His Word, not only in His ability, but in His compassion and His willingness and His desire to alleviate suffering! For it is not only His desire to do good, it was His purpose in coming in the flesh:
“Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isa 53:4-6
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me,
Because the LORD has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” Isa 61:1-3
“Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” Joh 5:19
“… how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.” Act 10:38
Now in the middle of this chapter, it seems there are two stories that do not fit the pattern: Matthew the tax collector (Mat 9:9-13), and the question about fasting (Mat 9:14-17). But I believe the Word of God to be deliberate, and there is no misplaced word. It is a teaching tool of Scripture, to establish a pattern, and then break the pattern in order to draw attention to the break, in order to teach something.
In the story of Matthew the tax collector, when Jesus is questioned as to why He is eating with sinners, He answers, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” Well, there is our theme again: Jesus is the Great Physician – but this time, the definition of “sick” has just been expanded to include those who are sinners, needing to be brought to repentance in order to have (spiritual) life restored to them.
For further study: Mat 9:14-17, the paragraph concerning fasting and the wineskins, seems truly out of place with the flow of the rest of the chapter, but most of the time, every time something in the Word of God jars out of sync like this, God has a connection to teach, as we have already seen in Scripture. What might the connection be? What is God trying to say? Leave comments!