Matthew 9:3
After the series of miracles of healing recorded in the previous chapter, the evangelist passes to the more directly spiritual work of Christ, and the transition is marked by an incident which combines both kinds of ministry.

I. THE WORLD'S FIRST NEED IS THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. The sufferer was in a pitiably helpless condition - so helpless that he had to be carried to Christ. Yet the Saviour saw that his bodily weakness was of secondary importance compared to the spiritual paralysis of sin that benumbed his soul. His friends thought only of the physical trouble; but the keen eye of the Physician of souls penetrated through the superficial symptoms to the more terrible spiritual disease beneath. It would seem that the man himself felt this most acutely, and that Jesus, who could read hearts at a glance, perceived his deep yearning for forgiveness, and answered his unexpressed desire. It may be that his present condition was the result of some form of intemperance, was the natural punishment of his sins. But if this was not the case, there was, and there always is, a general connection between sin and suffering. However this may be, we all need to be delivered from our sins more than we need to be cured of any bodily infirmity. He alone who can save from sin is man's real Saviour.

II. CHRIST HAS DIVINE AUTHORITY TO FORGIVE SIN. He does not pray for the man's forgiveness. He grants the pardon himself. His action startled and alarmed the religious people in the assembly. Was not Jesus claiming a Divine prerogative? Now, one of their premises was perfectly sound. Only God has a right to forgive sin, and if a mere man claims to pronounce absolution in more than a general declaration of the gospel, i.e. as a direct act of forgiveness, he is guilty of blasphemy. We cannot both accept the gospel narrative and reject the Divinity of Christ without leaving the character of our Lord under suspicion of the gravest charges. There is no middle course here. A mild Unitarianism that believes in the Gospels and honours Jesus is most illogical. But knowing the character of Christ to be true and pure, must we not take his calm claim to forgive sins as an evidence of his Divinity?

III. CHRIST'S MISSION ON EARTH BRINGS THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. This is a new note in religion. Forgiveness was known in the Old Testament (e.g. Psalm 103:3). But Jesus brings it with a fresh graciousness, with a new fulness and directness.

1. By his incarnation. It was as the "Son of man" that Jesus opened up the wealth of Divine forgiveness to us. The people marvelled at the power that had been granted "unto men."

(1) In his human life Jesus shows us the sympathy of God.

(2) He also reveals true purity, and so strikes a deep note of penitence, and brings us into the spirit that is capable of receiving pardon.

2. Through his atonement. This was not seen at first. It was enough to perceive the great fact - that Jesus brought forgiveness. But at the end of his life our Lord showed that his power to do this was confirmed by his death; that his blood was "shed for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26:28). Thus by the sacrifice of himself he reconciles us to God, and reconciliation is the very essence of forgiveness.

3. In his present power. He showed one phase of his power in healing the bodily disease of the sufferer. This was a sign of the healing power that cures spiritual evil. He is the present, living Saviour, who both heals and pardons by his word of grace. - W.F.A.







Then touched He their eyes.
The power, glory, rewards of faith form the theme of this chapter.

I. The faith described in the text was THE FIRST OUTGROWTH AND EXPRESSION OF A DEEP AND LIVELY SENSE OF WRETCHEDNESS AND DARKNESS. Faith often springs out of such convictions; it Also amounts to a conviction that light is possible.

II. The faith in this instance was INTELLIGENT. They had settled it in their minds that Jesus was the Son of David, that He had come to open the eyes of the blind. Their faith conceived the grandeur of His mission. Faith is not merely an emotion; it is a conviction of the understanding.

III. This faith of the blind men was EAGER AND IMPORTUNATE. They followed Jesus. It was not crushed by having to wait for mercy.

IV. The faith of these individuals was A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.

V. The faith here referred to APPRECIATED CHRIST'S POWER TO SAVE.

VI. The faith here mentioned APPROPRIATES and applies the Divine Power to its own case.

(H. R. Reynolds, B. A.)

Expository Outlines.
1. A SIMPLE PRAYER. Their prayer was

(1)united. Union is strength.

(2)Earnest.

(3)Persevering.

II. AN IMPORTANT INQUIRY. "Believe, ye," etc.

1. What it involves. The dignity of Christ.

2. On account of the principle it sets forth. He required no personal worthiness in those He cured; faith only.

3. Because of its spiritual application. Faith stands in same relation to healing of the soul.

III. A GRACIOUS ACT.

1. When He did so — as soon as they professed faith.

2. The words with which the act was accompanied.

3. The result that ensued.

IV. AN EXPRESS INJUNCTION. "See that no man know it." The reasons: —

1. The malice of His enemies.

2. The misguided zeal of the multitude.

3. The manner in which it was regarded.

(Expository Outlines.)

1. The broad law of the gospel is that God gives all He gives to faith.

2. That the measure of faith is the measure of His gift.

3. The chief ways to multiply faith are

(1)to live much on the promise;

(2)to love and cherish in the heart the inward voices of the Holy Spirit;

(3)to act out whatever grace God has already given.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Most of the poor make their wants known to the public by begging. Paralytics are laid down at the doors of the rich, or of the church or mosque, with the idea that men are most inclined to be charitable when they come from the house of feasting or of prayer. The blind lift up their voices as they grope their way from door to door along the streets.

(Van Lennep.)

I. THE SEEKERS. — the two blind men.

1. They were in downright earnest.

2. They were thoroughly persevering.

3. They had a definite object in their prayers.

4. They honoured Christ in their prayers.

5. They confessed their unworthiness.

II. THE QUESTION WHICH WAS PUT TO THEM.

1. It concerned their faith.

2. It concerned their faith in Jesus — "Believe ye that I am able to do this?"

3. Believe ye that I am able to do this? Some think their hearts too hard.

III. THAT QUESTION WAS A VERY REASONABLE ONE. Else why do you pray?

IV. THE ANSWER.

1. It was distinct.

2. It .was immediate.

V. OUR LORD'S RESPONSE TO THEIR ANSWER.

(C. H. Spurgeon)

"Why is faith so essential" It is because of its receptive power. A purse will not make a man rich, and yet without some place for his money how could a man acquire wealth. Faith of itself could not contribute a penny to salvation, but it is the purse which hold: a precious Christ within itself, yea, it holds all the treasures of Divine love. If a man is thirsty a rope and a bucket are not in themselves of much use to him, but yet, sirs, if there is a well near at hand the very thing that is wanted is a bucket and a rope, by means of which the water can be lifted. Faith is the bucket by means of which a man may draw water out of the wells of salvation, and drink to his heart's content. You may sometimes have stopped a moment at a street fountain, and have desired to drink, but you found you could not, for the drinking-cup was gone. The water flowed, but you could not get at it. It was tantalizing to be at the fountain-head and yet to be thirsty still for want of a little cup. Now faith is that little cup, which we hold up to the flowing stream of Christ's grace: we fill it, and then we drink and are refreshed. Hence the importance of faith. It would have seemed to our forefathers an idle thing to lay down a cable under the sea from England to America. and it would be idle now if it were not that science has taught us how to speak by lightning: yet the cable itself is now of the utmost importance, for the best inventions of telegraphy would be of no use for purposes of transatlantic communication if there were not the connecting wire between the two continents, Faith is just that; it is the connecting link between our souls and God, and the living message flashes along it to our souls. Faith is sometimes weak and comparable only to a very slender thread; but it is a very precious thing for all that, for it is the beginning of great things. Years ago they were wanting to throw a suspension bridge across a mighty chasm, through which flowed, far down, a navigable river, From crag to crag it was proposed to hang an iron bridge aloft in the air, but how was it to be commenced? They shot an arrow from one side to the other, and it carried across the gulf a tiny thread. That invisible thread was enough to begin with. The connection was established; by-and-by the thread drew a piece of twine, the twine carried after it a small rope, the rope soon carried a cable across, and all in good time came the iron chains and all else that was needed for the permanent way. Now, faith is often ver)" weak, but even in that ease it is still of the utmost value, for it forms a communication between the soul and the Lord Jesus Christ.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

In our own streets we meet here and there with a blind beggar, gut they swarm in Eastern cities. Ophthalmia is the scourge of Egypt and Syria, and Volney declares that in Cairo, out of a hundred persons whom he met, twenty were quite blind, ten wanted one eye, and twenty others were more or less afflicted in that organ. At the present day every one is struck with the immense number of the blind in Oriental lands, and things were probably worse in our Saviour's time.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

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