Matthew 9:1

The choice of Capernaum as suitable centre justified by results. Rapid spread of our Lord's fame. Eager crowds gathering from far and near. Picture scene: Here, father carrying drooping child; there, little girl with blind father; camel bearing woman bowed with infirmity; sick of all kinds brought by friends; crowd ever increasing; silence broken only by occasional yell of a possessed one or moans of sufferers. Crowds waiting before daylight, but Jesus not there - gone to a desert place to pray. His approach suddenly announced by one on the edge of the crowd; wonder and awe as he passes to the house, stretching out hands of effectual blessing. Two results of this crowding of multitudes:

1. Jesus obliged to seek a more retired place.

2. Incident of text. Four friends, believing that he whom they have carried far will be able to walk back if they can lay him before Jesus. Overcome obstacles, removing a few large, uncemented tiles of roof - a liberty pleasing to our Lord as a tribute to him and proof of their faith. Common experience to ask one thing and receive another. Perhaps this man had an inward conviction that spiritual gifts were the greater. Scribes cavil at "Thy sins be," etc.; begin to suspect evasion; therefore Jesus does work that can be tested by their senses. Two points unusual: Our Lord accepted test tacitly proposed, and the miracle convinced the witnesses. Miracles evidences of revelation because themselves parts of it, not mere signs. God could not reveal himself except by miracle. Historical fact that nature has never done so. Revelation not so much accompanied by as consisting of miracles. Such a revelation authenticates itself, proves itself such because giving higher and worthier idea of God.

I. CALLING OF MATTHEW. His office odious to Jews, both as representing foreign government and from oppressive system of farming taxes. Evil effects of such system seen now in Egypt and elsewhere. No loss to government by Matthew thus suddenly throwing up office, he having already paid the sum. Possible, but rare, for good man to be in such a calling. Our Lord does not defend his calling of Matthew on that ground. He chose his followers among the unsophisticated, or those who had not yet found their good. Probably some previous acquaintance with Matthew. Matthew perhaps gradually dissatisfied with himself. Among such the Lord is found. His unanswerable reply to Pharisees, "They that be whole," etc. To those sick in body, in heart, in spirit, he offers himself; to the heavy-laden, disappointed, broken, sinful, one unfailing Friend, bent on bringing them into his own peace and holiness and joy. Are there none here who will at length listen to his call, "Follow me" ? Follow by keeping him always in view, thinking of him, doing his will.

II. MATTHEW'S FEAST. In the joy of his heart inclined to be lavish. From being despised, hated, suddenly chosen as friend and companion by greatest and worthiest. Cherished money-bags contemptible in presence of Christ and his love. Pharisees not in sympathy. It might be a fast-day; much might be involved. It was thin end of wedge - a party forming, not fettered by mechanical rules, but allowing the spirit naturally to express itself. Suitable, therefore, that this, our Lord's first recorded teaching to a mixed multitude, should deal with this new thing. He lays down the principle that underlies all outward observance, viz. that the state of mind gives it appropriateness and virtue. Further explained in two parables. In every generation can be seen this Pharisaic spirit - deep-seated hatred and fear of change. Men who have never gone deep enough to distinguish between essential and accidental, saying, "If there is new life, let it be kept in the old forms." To do so were to destroy both. These parables fit a most important principle. Had Matthew fasted at this time, his new love and energy would have been wasted instead of utilized, and fasting (the old bottle) become for ever distasteful to him. As it was, he would fast again when he felt it suitable. New ways sometimes preferred by new converts. If love to Christ and sound moral conduct go with the changes, no need to fear them. But our Lord bad also a word of apology for conservatism of Pharisees: "No man, having drunk old wine," etc. Natural to prefer the old. So with many of the best of men. For few attain to the complete magnanimity and truth of the Lord. "Oh that patrons of old ways understood Christ's wisdom, and that patrons of new ways sympathized with his charity!... When will young men and old men, liberals and conservatives, broad Christians and narrow, learn to bear with one another; yea, to recognize each in the other the necessary complement of his own one-sidedness?" (Bruce). - D.

A man sick of the palsy.
American Homiletical Review.



(American Homiletical Review.)

I. OUR FAITH MAY BE EFFECTUAL IN SAVING OTHERS. The faith of the centurion obtained a cure for his servant. Such instances prove that, in all .eases, we may help on the salvation of our friends; that in some cases our faith may stand in the place of theirs. Another one's faith may do for an infant, a lunatic, for one who has an insurmountable obstacle m the way of coming to Christ. Apply this to the case of sponsors in infant baptism. We are related to God, and members one of another.

II. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN DISEASE AND SIN. Christ goes deeper than the outward evil, to that which is evil — sin. The consequence of sin often traced in suffering. The consequences of past deeds remain.

III. CHRIST THE RESTORER OF HEALTH AND THE FORGIVER OF SIN. We have no right to argue there was no repentance: he felt his need of Christ. Christ spoke to the suffering sinner; giving first that we may return to Him of His own. There may be s crowd of evil thoughts, doubts between you and your Saviour; let none of these hinder you.

(C. B. Drake, M. A.)

There are three views of the outward miracles of our Lord, one as marvels of power, as demonstrations of benevolence, as seeing in them a Divine correspondence between the things of nature and the things of the spirit; between the facts of the outer and inner world. Thus, the multiplied bread a visible image of heavenly nourishment.


II. THE CONDITION OF THE CURE. This patient does hear, does believe, and is ready to obey. Let us never despair of another. "They brought him" — notice this neighbourly and vicarious kindness. There are instances when the sick man alone lacks force to arise. In the fulfilment of the necessary condition faith and action are joined, and the action expresses the faith. These persons not only believe abstractly in Christ's power; they brought their sick neighbour where He was. It was not an experiment with them, but the faith of confident expectation. On our way to cure we have no time for speculation, or curiosity; but to draw near with faith.


1. A title of endearment and an assurance of hope. Adaptation of Christ's treatment; he never administers rebuke to self-abasement.

2. The words reveal a deep insight into the relations of physical and moral evil. Pain, the result of sin; hence He removes disobedience, then discomfort.

IV. THE LOW INSTINCTS AND PREFERENCES OF THE NATURAL MAN CHAFE AT THIS DIVINE FRIENDLINESS. These scribes represent jealous and selfish human nature. This friendliness is too wise, deep, holy, for their low desires. The scribes watch for the chance of hostile criticism. Self-will demands to be saved after its own manner.

V. HERE THEN, IN THE CAVILS OF THESE SPECTATORS, THE DIVINE PHYSICIAN FINDS A NEW DISORDER MORE DEEPLY STRUCK THAN THE OTHER. His compassion; His patience. He changes the manner of His mercy, and is willing by any means to convince the people that He is Lord. All miracle is one, the cure of sick bodies and sick hearts.

VI. THE MULTITUDE GLORIFIED GOD. The intended result was reached.

(Bp. Huntingdon.)

I. SIN — ITS RELATION TO THE BODY. Its sphere of action is in "high places; " mere matter cannot sin. It lives secretly in the soul, but works terribly in the body. As sin works outward through the body, punishment strikes the body on its way to the seat of sin. Here is one of God's grandest temples lying in ruins; and God incarnate comes to restore it. He came not to deliver the body from the temporal consequences of sin, but the man from its power here, and its presence hereafter.


1. It is by a free pardon that sin is removed and its eternal consequences averted. There is no other cure.

2. The Saviour to whom this needy man was brought has power to forgive sins. It is the acquired right of Him who bore the law's curse.

3. Christ has power to forgive on earth. While we are on this earth only.

4. The Son of Man hath power to forgive. The power lies in our brother's hands.

5. Christ the Saviour, in coming to a sinful man desires his safety hereafter, but also his happiness now — "Son, be of good cheer." Every man has his own way of seeking "good cheer"; some by money, lands, politics, war.

(W. Armlet.)

1. In awakening the dormant powers of the palsied man.

2. In calming the perturbed soul — "Be of good cheer."

3. In healing both soul and body.

(A. F. C. Wallroth.)




1. His knowledge. He knew the real need of the paralytic.

2. His authority. It is good to have been afflicted.

(D. Rees.)

Why does our Saviour begin with the pardon of sin?

1. To display His sovereignty.

2. To show that the soul is the principal care.

3. Perhaps the man suffered more from spiritual distress than from bodily pain.

4. It would seem to emit a ray of His glory, and prove a test to try the dispositions of the company.Here are several things worthy of notice: —

1. This cure was effected by a word.

2. He was ordered to return home. Christ did not seek His own glory.

3. Fix your eye on Jesus, the most prominent figure in the story.

4. How far the case of the paralytic resembles yours.

(1)Are you distressed in mind and body too?

(2)Has Christ healed thy body and not thy soul?

(3)Has he spoken peace to thy conscience, and is thy body still under the influence of disease?

(W. Jay.)



1. Observe what it was that found its way to the heart of Christ. .Not his suffering, but faith.

2. Mark the peculiarity of the reception he gave to the paralyzed man — "Son, be of good cheer," etc.



1. All men, till they come into saving contact with Christ, are carrying about with them two heavy burdens.

2. Christ has power to meet every case of accumulated guilt and heart-seated depravity.

3. What then is the nature of this blessing?

(P. Morrison.)

1. The connection which subsists between the prevalence of sickness and the invasion of sin.

2. Why it is not always the case that when sin is pardoned sickness is healed. Not for want of power on the part of our Lord. Also in the case of the palsied man it was necessary that He should give to the Jewish people a proof that He possessed the power He claimed; this not necessary now. Christ does even now sometimes heal where all human remedy has failed; but not always. Then the discipline of continued affliction is good, impatience is subdued. Also we have given an evidence of the power of the gospel, in the triumph of grace over nature.

(S. Robjohns, M. A.)

The Clergyman's Magazine.
1. The terrible state of the patient.

2. The charity of his friends.

3. The compassion of Jesus, so ready and comprehensive.

4. The opposition of his enemies.

5. The patient, meek forbearance of our Lord.

6. The triumphant display of His Divine power.

7. Its effect upon the multitude, wonder, not repentance.

(The Clergyman's Magazine.)

One real case of bodily paralysis may help us to picture what above all things we ought to know, the state of our own inner life. I have seen this quoted from the medical records at Paris: — A man was attacked by a creeping paralysis; sight was the first to fail; soon after, hearing went; then, by degrees, taste, smell, touch, and the very power of motion. He could breathe, he could swallow, he could think, and, strange to say, he could speak; that was all; not the very slightest message from without could possibly, it seemed, reach his mind, nothing to tell him what was near, who was still alive; the world was utterly lost to him, and he all but lost to the world. At last, one day, an accident showed that one small place on one cheek had its feeling left. It seemed a revelation from heaven. By tracing letters on that place, his wife and children could speak to him, his dark dungeon-wall was pierced, his tongue had never lost its power, and once more he was a man among men. Strange this, and true; a parable too if we read it aright. The worst kind of paralysis, but, God be thanked, far the rarest of all, is that of the heart and conscience. There never was a man with no affections and no sense of right and wrong. But never must they be pronounced past cure. God alone knows our real state; there is always some tender spot in our nature, some sensitive place on which He can write in characters of love, and it may be some one's privilege to find it — the thought of a mother, of the days of childhood, of a little one who died, or whatever it be, God- can still use that as a means of cure.

(H. S. Swithinbank, M. A.)

Not, "Be of good cheer, thy health is given thee," though that he had also; but " thy sins are forgiven thee." If a friend should come to a malefactor, on his way to the gallows, put a sweet posy in his hands, and bid him be of good cheer, smell on that; alas! this would bring little joy with it to the poor man's heart, who sees the place of execution before him. But if one came from his prince with a pardon, put it into his hand, and bade him be of good cheer; this, and this only, would cheer the poor man's heart, and fill it with a ravishment of joy. Truly, anything short of pardoning mercy is as inconsiderable towards pacifying a troubled conscience, as that posy in the dying prisoner's hand would be.


ailment: — Sin is the well in which it springs, and perdition the sea to which it is flowing. When he looked on disease, he sees its beginning and its ending: his work is to cut short its course, ere it issue in the second death. He looks upward and downward: he will not confine his view to these symptoms which appear in the body, and pertain to time.

(W. Arnot.)

Many Oriental houses have a court or quadrangle in front; the buildings which form the house occupy one or more of its sides. The internal part of such a house is often screened by a corridor below, having the various household officers behind it, and a gallery above, from which is the entrance to the family apartments. The gallery is roofed over, and its roof is about the same height as the roof of the house. Bearing this in mind we may account for what occurred in this way. The quadrangle was full of people; our Lord instructs them from the gallery: the Pharisees are in the family apartments adjoining the gallery; the friends of the sick man cannot enter the quadrangle from the street; or if this could be done, they cannot reach the corridor, from which there were steps leading to the gallery; they ascend, therefore, the stairs from the back or side of the house leading to the roof, and break open the roof or verandah which covered the gallery. The house-roof was used for a terrace, and was built of strong materials; the gallery-roof was of very slight construction, of the same character as the covered balcony.

(Webster and Wilkinson.)

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