In this section, Jesus continues to demonstrate tremendous power to heal, but there is rising opposition from the religious leaders - the Pharisees. Jesus heals a paralytic, a woman with a 12 year blood discharge, and two blind men. He raises a little girl from the dead and frees a man from demon possession. He also calls a tax collector named Matthew to follow him. (Tax collectors were despised by Jewish society because they worked for the Roman empire and got rich by increasing taxes for their own benefit.) When Jesus describes his ministry to Matthew and his "sinner" friends, he calls it one of spiritual medicine. He has come for the sick, not for those who think that they are well. As important as physical healing is, it appears that Jesus thought of it as a picture of spiritual healing and the forgiveness of sins.
But everyone is not please. The Pharisees are offended when he claimed power to forgive sin and scandalized when he ate dinner with Matthew's notorious friends. They disputed his religious practices and they even said that he was in league with the devil. Why were they so bent out of shape when Jesus was healing people?
Perhaps one clue is the repetition of the word faith in this section. Three times Jesus connects healing to faith. (vs 2,22,29) When Jesus says that "your faith has made you well" he is not saying that our faith has power. All of the power belongs to Jesus. But faith looks to Jesus and connects to his power. Faith is the "instrument" that connects us to the gracious power of God. People who think that they are well, have faith in their own abilities, but people who are sick look to the physician for healing. As the great physician, Jesus came for the sick - physically and spiritually. The sick know their needs and they are quick to look to Jesus for help.
The Pharisees had confidence in their own abilities and didn't think of themselves as spiritually sick. They weren't desperate for grace and they didn't look to Jesus with faith. When they saw Jesus eating with sinners and forgiving sins they didn't see the in-breaking of God's gracious kingdom. Instead, they saw Jesus breaking the rules. They were not ready for the mercy and the love of God displayed in the ministry of Jesus. Jesus took our infirmities upon himself (8:17) and he can forgive sins because he took our sins upon himself. God's grace is not cheap, but it is free. And it can be received by faith.
Do you see yourself as being a "sick sinner" in need of the gracious work of Jesus -the heavenly physician? Trust him, he is able to save. -MK