Take a few moments to read Matthew chapter 9 this evening. In this chapter we see the rising tide of Jesus’s popularity as a healer and a spiritual leader. We also see Him begin to encounter some resistance from the scribes and Pharisees.
Verses 1-8 show us Christ healing a paralyzed man despite scribes charging Him with blasphemy. In verses 9-13, Jesus recruits Matthew and is again charged with sin, this time by the Pharisees who said that He was spending too much time with sinners. Jesus’s perfect response was that the healthy do not need a doctor; the spiritually sick would benefit more from His presence.
Jesus’s remarks in verses 14-17 can be confusing. What it boils down to is that there will be a time and place for His disciples to fast, but not at that moment because Jesus was still with them. Regarding the talk of the wineskins, the meaning Jesus was imparting was that they should not let traditions (fasting) be more important than the coming new law of grace and repentance that would commence after Jesus’s death, burial and resurrection. His disciples and the disciples of John did not yet fully comprehend the meaning of Jesus’s arrival on earth. They believed in His divinity and had faith in His power, but the details were still to come. Step by step, Jesus is helping them understand using metaphors and parables.
Verses 18-38 show Jesus healing many more people. One woman is healed through her faith, a girl is raised from the dead, two blind men are given their sight and another man has a demon cast out of him. Jesus’s compassion blooms for the people in the closing words of the chapter as He considers their needs.
The scribes and Pharisees were the spiritual elite, the Jewish leaders that had a status quo to protect. Through His preaching, miracles and claims, Jesus was seriously disrupting their religious status quo. They had traditions and their own power to protect, which was threatened by Jesus whenever He forgave sins and healed the sick and afflicted. They did not want to believe that He was who He said He was. So they charged Him with blasphemy and with using the power of demons. It is the beginning of the conflict that will end his earthly life. But the real cause for Jesus’ death is not the persecution of the Jewish elite. Jesus died willingly for mankind so that we can be reconciled to God for our sins.