Jesus Heals a Palsied Man
9 1 Back in the boat, Jesus and the disciples recrossed the sea to Jesus' hometown. 2 They were hardly out of the boat when some men carried a paraplegic on a stretcher and set him down in front of them. Jesus, impressed by their bold belief, said to the paraplegic, "Cheer up, son. I forgive your sins." 3 Some religion scholars whispered, "Why, that's blasphemy!" 4 Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, "Why this gossipy whispering? 5 Which do you think is simpler: to say, 'I forgive your sins,' or, 'Get up and walk'? 6 Well, just so it's clear that I'm the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both. . . ." At this he turned to the paraplegic and said, "Get up. Take your bed and go home." 7 And the man did it. 8 The crowd was awestruck, amazed and pleased that God had authorized Jesus to work among them this way.
The Call of Matthew
9 Passing along, Jesus saw a man at his work collecting taxes. His name was Matthew. Jesus said, "Come along with me." Matthew stood up and followed him. 10 Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew's house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. 11 When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus' followers. "What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riff-raff?" 12 Jesus, overhearing, shot back, "Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? 13 Go figure out what this Scripture means: 'I'm after mercy, not religion.' I'm here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders."
The Question about Fasting
14 A little later John's followers approached, asking, "Why is it that we and the Pharisees rigorously discipline body and spirit by fasting, but your followers don't?" 15 Jesus told them, "When you're celebrating a wedding, you don't skimp on the cake and wine. You feast. Later you may need to pull in your belt, but not now. No one throws cold water on a friendly bonfire. This is Kingdom Come!" 16 He went on, "No one cuts up a fine silk scarf to patch old work clothes; you want fabrics that match. 17 And you don't put your wine in cracked bottles."
The Ruler's Daughter and the Woman Who Touched Jesus' Garment
18 As he finished saying this, a local official appeared, bowed politely, and said, "My daughter has just now died. If you come and touch her, she will live." 19 Jesus got up and went with him, his disciples following along. 20 Just then a woman who had hemorrhaged for twelve years slipped in from behind and lightly touched his robe. 21 She was thinking to herself, "If I can just put a finger on his robe, I'll get well." Jesus turned - caught her at it. Then he reassured her: "Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now you're well." 22 The woman was well from then on. 23 By now they had arrived at the house of the town official, and pushed their way through the gossips looking for a story and the neighbors bringing in casseroles. 24 Jesus was abrupt: "Clear out! This girl isn't dead. She's sleeping." They told him he didn't know what he was talking about. 25 But when Jesus had gotten rid of the crowd, he went in, took the girl's hand, and pulled her to her feet - alive. 26 The news was soon out, and traveled throughout the region.
Two Blind Men Receive Sight
27 As Jesus left the house, he was followed by two blind men crying out, "Mercy, Son of David! Mercy on us!" 28 When Jesus got home, the blind men went in with him. Jesus said to them, "Do you really believe I can do this?" They said, "Why, yes, Master!" 29 He touched their eyes and said, "Become what you believe." 30 It happened. They saw. Then Jesus became very stern. "Don't let a soul know how this happened." 31 But they were hardly out the door before they started blabbing it to everyone they met.
A Dumb Man Speaks
32 Right after that, as the blind men were leaving, a man who had been struck speechless by an evil spirit was brought to Jesus. 33 As soon as Jesus threw the evil tormenting spirit out, the man talked away just as if he'd been talking all his life. The people were up on their feet applauding: "There's never been anything like this in Israel!" 34 The Pharisees were left sputtering, "Hocus pocus. It's nothing but hocus pocus. He's probably made a pact with the Devil."
The Harvest Is Plenteous
35 Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. 36 When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. 37 "What a huge harvest!" he said to his disciples. "How few workers! 38 On your knees and pray for harvest hands!"
Jesus Chooses the Twelve
10 1 The prayer was no sooner prayed than it was answered. Jesus called twelve of his followers and sent them into the ripe fields. He gave them power to kick out the evil spirits and to tenderly care for the bruised and hurt lives. 2 This is the list of the twelve he sent: Simon (they called him Peter, or "Rock"), Andrew, his brother, James, Zebedee's son, John, his brother, 3 Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, the tax man, James, son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, 4 Simon, the Canaanite, Judas Iscariot (who later turned on him).
The Mission of the Twelve
5 Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge: 6 Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. 7 Tell them that the kingdom is here. 8 Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously. 9 "Don't think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start. 10 You don't need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment, and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day. Travel light. 11 "When you enter a town or village, don't insist on staying in a luxury inn. Get a modest place with some modest people, and be content there until you leave. 12 "When you knock on a door, be courteous in your greeting. 13 If they welcome you, be gentle in your conversation. 14 If they don't welcome you, quietly withdraw. Don't make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way. 15 You can be sure that on Judgment Day they'll be mighty sorry - but it's no concern of yours now.
16 "Stay alert. This is hazardous work I'm assigning you. You're going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don't call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove. 17 "Don't be naive. Some people will impugn your motives, others will smear your reputation - just because you believe in me. 18 Don't be upset when they haul you before the civil authorities. Without knowing it, they've done you - and me - a favor, given you a platform for preaching the kingdom news! 19 And don't worry about what you'll say or how you'll say it. The right words will be there; 20 the Spirit of your Father will supply the words. 21 "When people realize it is the living God you are presenting and not some idol that makes them feel good, they are going to turn on you, even people in your own family. 22 There is a great irony here: proclaiming so much love, experiencing so much hate! But don't quit. Don't cave in. It is all well worth it in the end. 23 It is not success you are after in such times but survival. Be survivors! Before you've run out of options, the Son of Man will have arrived. 24 "A student doesn't get a better desk than her teacher. A laborer doesn't make more money than his boss. 25 Be content - pleased, even - when you, my students, my harvest hands, get the same treatment I get. If they call me, the Master, 'Dungface,' what can the workers expect?
Whom to Fear
26 "Don't be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. 27 So don't hesitate to go public now. 28 "Don't be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There's nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life - body and soul - in his hands. 29 "What's the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. 30 He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail - even numbering the hairs on your head! 31 So don't be intimidated by all this bully talk. You're worth more than a million canaries. 32 "Stand up for me against world opinion and I'll stand up for you before my Father in heaven. 33 If you turn tail and run, do you think I'll cover for you?
Not Peace, but a Sword
34 "Don't think I've come to make life cozy. I've come to cut - 35 make a sharp knife-cut between son and father, daughter and mother, bride and mother-in-law - cut through these cozy domestic arrangements and free you for God. 36 Well-meaning family members can be your worst enemies. 37 If you prefer father or mother over me, you don't deserve me. If you prefer son or daughter over me, you don't deserve me. 38 "If you don't go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don't deserve me. 39 If your first concern is to look after yourself, you'll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you'll find both yourself and me.
40 "We are intimately linked in this harvest work. Anyone who accepts what you do, accepts me, the One who sent you. Anyone who accepts what I do accepts my Father, who sent me. 41 Accepting a messenger of God is as good as being God's messenger. Accepting someone's help is as good as giving someone help. This is a large work I've called you into, but don't be overwhelmed by it. It's best to start small. 42 Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won't lose out on a thing."