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|This is the New King James text of the passages.|
Matthew 8:1-4; Matthew 9:1-17 Listen
Mark 1:40-2:22; Luke 5:12-39
In this passage, we see the following events in Jesus' ministry:
A man is healed of leprosy (Matthew 8:1-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-15)
|1 When He had come down from the mountain, great multitudes followed Him.
2 And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
3 Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.
4 And Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
|40 Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”
41 Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.”
42 As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed.
43 And He strictly warned him and sent him away at once,
44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
45 However, he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction.
|12 And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
13 Then He put out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him.
14 And He charged him to tell no one, “But go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as a testimony to them, just as Moses commanded.”
15 However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities.
The setting for this occasion is somewhere in Galilee. Leprosy was the dreaded disease of Bible times in both the Old and New Testaments. The Law of Moses has much to say about the procedures for dealing with a person who has leprosy. He was considered unclean and placed away from the general populace in isolation. Furthermore, you couldn't just walk back into society one day and say, "I'm all well now." You had to be declared clean and "all well now" by the priest. This procedure is found in detail in Leviticus 13 (see notes) and continues into Leviticus 14 (see notes). After Jesus heals the leper, he tells him not to tell anyone how he was healed, but rather just show himself to the priest for the necessary clean bill of health. Did he obey? Look at Mark 1:45, "However, he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction." In Luke 5:15-16 we see the impact on Jesus' ministry as a result of the leper's healing, "However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed."
Down through the roof (Matthew 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-13; Luke 5:16-26)
|1 So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city.
2 Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.”
3 And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!”
4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?
5 For which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’?
6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”
7 And he arose and departed to his house.
8 Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.
|1 And again He entered Capernaum after some days, and it was heard that He was in the house.
2 Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them.
3 Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men.
4 And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying.
5 When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”
6 And some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts,
7 “Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
8 But immediately, when Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, “Why do you reason about these things in your hearts?
9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk’?
10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic,
11 “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”
12 Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all, so that all were amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
13 Then He went out again by the sea; and all the multitude came to Him, and He taught them.
|16 So He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.
17 Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them.
18 Then behold, men brought on a bed a man who was paralyzed, whom they sought to bring in and lay before Him.
19 And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus.
20 When He saw their faith, He said to him, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.”
21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, He answered and said to them, “Why are you reasoning in your hearts?
23 Which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise up and walk’?
24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the man who was paralyzed, “I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.”
25 Immediately he rose up before them, took up what he had been lying on, and departed to his own house, glorifying God.
26 And they were all amazed, and they glorified God and were filled with fear, saying, “We have seen strange things today!”
Jesus is up in northern Israel in Capernaum on the coast of the Sea of Galilee. While preaching in a house, people continued to gather around until some showed up with a paralytic man. It was too crowded to get him in, so they lowered him through the roof. No problems until Jesus tells the paralytic man, "...your sins are forgiven you." The religion police (Pharisees and scribes) were there, and that raises a ruckus among the Jewish scribes (the official scholars); they accuse him of blasphemy. Of course, they're simply looking for something to use against Jesus, since he had already made it clear that he has no respect for the corrupt Jewish leadership of the day. It was problematic for them that Jesus had the ability to heal the sick, but to forgive sins was over the line as far as they were concerned.
Here's some insight on this situation. There is no suggestion here that all sickness is as a result of sin. However, as God in the flesh, Christ was able to perceive that this man's illness was as the result of sin; he also perceived that this paralytic man was repentant. Therefore, it was appropriate for him to forgive this man's sins. Meantime, the scribes are looking for a way to entrap Jesus. They would like to have had direct evidence that he had proclaimed himself to be God; they bait him to make that declaration in Mark 2:7 when they ask, "Who can forgive sins but God alone?" However, all they can get are implications as he refers to himself as the "Son of man," a reference used by David and Ezekiel in a human context, but used by Daniel to refer to the Messiah.
Daniel 7:13-14 (see notes) I was watching in the night visions, And behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed.
So, without directly saying it, Jesus is assuming the title of Messiah...or is he? The title, "Son of man," wasn't a reference to that same Messianic context in Ezekiel where it is used by that prophet 93 times in reference to himself. You can see how Jesus gave these religious professionals fits.
Incidentally, not long before this incident, Jesus had declared that he, himself, was the Messiah while in a synagogue in Nazareth. That occasion is found in Luke 4:16-30 (see notes) and was in Jesus' hometown. Capernaum, where this incident takes place is about 30 miles by roads from Nazareth. That's a considerable distance in a day when people walked where they went. It is likely that word from Nazareth had not trickled over to Capernaum about Jesus' professed identity at this point in time.
The Jews seek creative ways to entrap Jesus (Matthew 9:9-13; Mark 2:14-17; Luke 5:27-32)
|9 As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him.
10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples.
11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
13 But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
|14 As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him.
15 Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him.
16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?”
17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
|27 After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.”
28 So he left all, rose up, and followed Him.
29 Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them.
30 And their scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, “Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
31 Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
It's only natural that Jews hated tax collectors - representatives of the Roman government assigned to take their money - still true today, I guess. These tax gatherers are called "publicans" in the KJV. Jews really, really despised the Roman-appointed tax collectors...like Levi. He was a Jew and had a Jewish name, but worked for the government. It really grated on the Jews that Jesus would go have supper with him...and with his friends - fellow tax collectors. Levi becomes one of the apostles of Jesus, and his name is changed to Matthew. "Matthew," by the way, is the English transliteration of the Greek transliteration for the Hebrew name, "Mattithiah" (the name of four men mentioned in the Old Testament). Furthermore, he goes on to write the Gospel according to Matthew.
Matthew's own Gospel simply refers to the occasion as a meal, as does Mark. Both refer to the questionable guests as "many tax collectors and sinners." Luke, however, identifies this occasion as a "great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them." Luke wants us to understand the magnitude of the problem here as seen by the Jewish leaders. Perhaps this is a going-out-of-business bash that Matthew throws. As a practice, Pharisees had no contact with these "sinners" and question why Jesus chooses to do so. Jesus replies that ministering to sinners is why he came. The Pharisees see this as a great opportunity to point out the shortcomings of Jesus to a lot of people; we'll see this in the verses that follow. In Matthew 9:13, Matthew points out that Jesus quoted Hosea 6:6 (see notes) in his reply to the Pharisees when he says to them, "But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance." In that chapter of Hosea, Israel is being rebuked for rejecting the counsel of God. You can see the implications of that quotation and comment by Jesus; it's no wonder the Jews were infuriated. Incidentally, Jesus quoted Hosea 6:6 (see notes) to a different group of Pharisees on a later occasion in Matthew 12:7 (see notes).
Why don't your disciples fast? (Matthew 9:14-17; Mark 2:18-22; Luke 5:33-39)
|14 Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?”
15 And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.
16 No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse.
17 Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
|18 The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were fasting. Then they came and said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?”
19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.
20 But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.
21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse.
22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.”
|33 Then they said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?”
34 And He said to them, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them?
35 But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them; then they will fast in those days.”
36 Then He spoke a parable to them: “No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old.
37 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined.
38 But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.
39 And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, “The old is better.’ ”
In Luke's account we see this conversation taking place at Matthew's house on the occasion of his I-ain't-collectin'-taxes-anymore party. That's significant, inasmuch as the big ol' banquet tables are stacked with food (remember - a "great feast"). So, with all this eating going on, how about a question regarding the indulgences of the occasion, "Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise those of the Pharisees, but Yours eat and drink?" Matthew and Mark both tell us that some of the disciples of John the Baptist participate with the Pharisees in this inquiry. (I just wonder if the Pharisees had been over talking to John's disciples trying to get them riled up.) As far as scripture is concerned, in the Old Testament the Jews only fasted on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:29-31, see notes; Leviticus 23:27-32 (see notes); Numbers 29:7, see notes). Later on, when they returned from Babylonian exile, four other annual fasts were observed by Jews (Zechariah 7:5, see notes; Zechariah 8:19, see notes). We see from Luke 18:12 (see notes) that some of the Pharisees fasted twice a week; we have no idea why. As far as John the Baptist's disciples, maybe they were fasting because he was in prison at the time, or maybe they were fasting because they saw the Messianic age at hand; we don't really know. In both cases, fasting was a sure sign in those times that you were serious about your religion. A complete overview regarding fasting can be seen in the commentary on Isaiah 58 (see notes).
So, here's the question asked of Jesus: "Why don't your disciples fast?" The answer comes in the form of an analogy. When the bridegroom is present at the wedding feast, there's nothing to fast about; everybody eats heartily. However, when the bridegroom is gone, then it will be appropriate to fast. Was he talking about his crucifixion here? Perhaps so, but one thing is for certain: Jesus implies that the Pharisees and John's disciples fast in anticipation of an event ie. the coming of the Messiah. Since Jesus is that Messiah, his disciples have no need to fast. Incidentally, John the Baptist is in prison and has been since Luke 3:18-20 (see notes). He remains in prison until he is beheaded in Matthew 14:3-12 (see notes) - perhaps another reason why his disciples fast.
What is this new-wine-old-bottles analogy about? Let's look at the circumstances and conversation around Jesus' comments and see if we can perceive his meaning. The Pharisees were the leading religionists in Palestine in that day. They fully anticipated that anyone aspiring to Messiahship would be working with them. Here they are at it again, however, criticizing every move Jesus makes - who his friends are, with whom he eats, the very fact that he eats at all. So to explain to them where they fit into the leadership scheme of the coming kingdom, Jesus uses the wine-bottle and the cloth-garment analogies.
Before we actually plug into our analogy, let's take a look at the underlying principle behind these two analogies. The KJV translates the adjective (Greek: ἄγναφος/agnaphos) here as "new." The word specifically means "unshrunken." So, if you sew a new piece of cloth that has never been washed, the piece will shrink while the rest of the garment will not. That would be ugly. Likewise, the new wine cannot successfully be fermented in previously-used wineskins because they have already been stretched during the first fermentation process. Fermentation emits a gas which causes significant expansion. Therefore, the previously-used wineskin has no ability to stretch further, and thus, would break open.
Let's fit the components into these two analogies:
Here's the bottom line subtly stated: Jesus is telling these Pharisees that they won't be part of the leadership team in the Messianic kingdom. Do you think they're starting to get the picture?