Matthew 9 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Matthew 9)

Verse 2

[2] And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

Seeing their faith — Both that of the paralytic, and of them that brought him.

Son — A title of tenderness and condescension. Mark 2:3; Luke 5:18.

Verse 3

[3] And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.

This man blasphemeth — Attributing to himself a power (that of forgiving sins) which belongs to God only.

Verse 5

[5] For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?

Which is easier — Do not both of them argue a Divine power? Therefore if I can heal his disease, I can forgive his sins: especially as his disease is the consequence of his sins. Therefore these must be taken away, if that is.

Verse 6

[6] But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.

On earth — Even in my state of humiliation.

Verse 8

[8] But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.

So what was to the scribes an occasion of blaspheming, was to the people an incitement to praise God.

Verse 9

[9] And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him.

He saw a man named Matthew — Modestly so called by himself. The other evangelists call him by his more honourable name, Levi.

Sitting — In the very height of his business, at the receipt of custom - The custom house, or place where the customs were received. Mark 2:14; Luke 5:27.

Verse 10

[10] And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.

As Jesus sat at table in the house — Of Matthew, who having invited many of his old companions, made him a feast, Mark 2:15; and that a great one, though he does not himself mention it. The publicans, or collectors of the taxes which the Jews paid the Romans, were infamous for their illegal exactions: Sinners - Open, notorious, sinners.

Verse 11

[11] And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?

The Pharisees said to his disciples, Why eateth your Master? — Thus they commonly ask our Lord, Why do thy disciples this? And his disciples, Why doth your Master?

Verse 13

[13] But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Go ye and learn — Ye that take upon you to teach others.

I will have mercy and not sacrifice — That is, I will have mercy rather than sacrifice. I love acts of mercy better than sacrifice itself. Hosea 6:6.

Verse 14

[14] Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?

Then — While he was at table. Mark 2:18; Luke 5:33.

Verse 15

[15] And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.

The children of the bride chamber — The companions of the bridegroom.

Mourn — Mourning and fasting usually go together. As if he had said, While I am with them, it is a festival time, a season of rejoicing, not mourning. But after I am gone, all my disciples likewise shall be in fastings often.

Verse 16

[16] No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.

This is one reason,-It is not a proper time for them to fast. Another is, they are not ripe for it.

New cloth — The words in the original properly signify cloth that hath not passed through the fuller's hands, and which is consequently much harsher than what has been washed and worn; and therefore yielding less than that, will tear away the edges to which it is sewed.

Verse 17

[17] Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.

New — Fermenting wine will soon burst those bottles, the leather of which is almost worn out. The word properly means vessels made of goats' skins, wherein they formerly put wine, (and do in some countries to this day) to convey it from place to place.

Put new wine into new bottles — Give harsh doctrines to such as have strength to receive them.

Verse 18

[18] While he spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live.

Just dead — He had left her at the point of death, Mark 5:23. Probably a messenger had now informed him she was dead. Mark 5:22; Luke 8:41.

Verse 20

[20] And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:

Coming behind — Out of bashfulness and humility.

Verse 22

[22] But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.

Take courage — Probably she was struck with fear, when he turned and looked upon her, Mark 5:33; Luke 8:47; lest she should have offended him, by touching his garment privately; and the more so, because she was unclean according to the law, Leviticus 15:25.

Verse 23

[23] And when Jesus came into the ruler's house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise,

The minstrels — The musicians. The original word means flute players. Musical instruments were used by the Jews as well as the heathens, in their lamentations for the dead, to soothe the melancholy of surviving friends, by soft and solemn notes. And there were persons who made it their business to perform this, while others sung to their music. Flutes were used especially on the death of children; louder instruments on the death of grown persons.

Verse 24

[24] He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn.

Withdraw — There is no need of you now; for the maid is not dead - Her life is not at an end; but sleepeth - This is only a temporary suspension of sense and motion, which should rather be termed sleep than death.

Verse 25

[25] But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose.

The maid arose — Christ raised three dead persons to life; this child, the widow's son, and Lazarus: one newly departed, another on the bier, the third smelling in the grave: to show us that no degree of death is so desperate as to be past his help.

Verse 32

[32] As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man possessed with a devil.

Luke 11:14.

Verse 33

[33] And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel.

Even in Israel - Where so many wonders have been seen.

Verse 36

[36] But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.

Because they were faint — In soul rather than in body.

As sheep having no shepherd — And yet they had many teachers; they had scribes in every city. But they had none who cared for their souls, and none that were able, if they had been willing, to have wrought any deliverance. They had no pastors after God's own heart.

Verse 37

[37] Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few;

The harvest truly is great — When Christ came into the world, it was properly the time of harvest; till then it was the seed time only.

But the labourers are few — Those whom God sends; who are holy, and convert sinners. Of others there are many. Luke 10:2.

Verse 38

[38] Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

The Lord of the harvest — Whose peculiar work and office it is, and who alone is able to do it: that he would thrust forth - for it is an employ not pleasing to flesh and blood; so full of reproach, labour, danger, temptation of every kind, that nature may well be averse to it. Those who never felt this, never yet knew what it is to be labourers in Christ's harvest. He sends them forth, when he calls them by his Spirit, furnishes them with grace and gifts for the work, and makes a way for them to be employed therein.