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MATTHEW 9 - The Meaning of Miracles

· Matthew

Matthew 9 is the second consecutive chapter that is almost entirely centered around Jesus’ performing miracles generally, and Him healing in particular. If we aren’t careful, these sections can begin to blur together, and we can miss the message that Matthew is trying to get across to us.

One thing that I find often helps new interpreters as they read a story in which Jesus does something miraculous is to ask them why Jesus performs this miracle instead of another. After all, Jesus is the Son of God, and thus omnipotent. He could presumably perform any miracle He wished on any given occasion. In Matthew 9:1-8, instead of healing the paralyzed man, Jesus could have just as easily called down fire to consume the doubting Pharisees. For that matter in verses 27-31, He could have given the blind men leprosy rather than heal their affliction.

Generally when I pose these scenarios, my students balk, saying, “But Jesus would never do that!” And that is, of course, the point. The wonders Jesus performs show us what sort of Messiah He is. Like His sermons and parables, the miracles are intended to teach us more about Him and what He came to earth to do.

The healing of the two blind men (Matt. 9:27-31) is an excellent example. The two men follow Jesus, calling out to Him as the “Son of David” to “have mercy” on them. Now Jesus could have simply said, “Be healed” and gone about His day, but instead He asks them a question, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” When they say yes, Jesus tells them that on account of their faith they are healed. (v. 29).

Why does Jesus frame the miracle this way? Why doesn’t He just wave His hand and shout “You’re healed!” as He passes by? Why does He say that “their faith” rather than “His power” healed them?

The reason is that Jesus is showing His audience - and us - something about what He came to earth to do. Like these men, all of us come to Jesus “blind” - doomed to spend eternity stumbling in darkness blinded by sin with no ability to heal ourselves. But if we have faith in Him and ask Him for help, Jesus is able to heal us of our sin just as He cured their sight. Jesus’ miraculous healings are thus a living parable, demonstrating to His disciples - and us - the necessity of faith and the path to salvation.

As you read about the miracles of Jesus throughout Matthew and the other gospels, ask yourself what message the Master is trying to communicate through His actions. To what do these “signs,” as Christ calls them, point the way? And finally, what do Jesus’ miracles tell us about our mission as His followers?

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