Chapters 8 and 9 are a narrative section composed of nine miracle stories, arranged in groups of three, with a small discourse about discipleship after each. Matthew draws most of the stories from the Gospel of Mark, but he abbreviates the stories in order to draw more attention to the essential actions and the accompanying words. Each group of stories speak of Jesus' teaching, preaching, and healing, but each has its own dominant idea/theme (this does not exclude other levels of meaning, however).
I. The first group of stories, in Matthew 8:1-17, emphasizes Jesus' divine power to heal. The concluding verse of this section, "to fulfill what had been said by Isaiah the prophet: “He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases," makes Matthew's point of Jesus' divinity: we see Jesus fulfilling the prophetic promise. In the choice of those who are ill (leper, Gentile, & tax collector), we see God caring for us all, not just the chosen few.
II. The second group of stories, in Matthew 8:18 through 9:17, emphasizes the conditions and demands of being a disciple. Not only must one renounce those sins and worldly things that hold us back from fully accepting Him, we must also accept the hardships that will come in the future as we continue as disciples.
III. The third group of stories, found in Matthew 9:18-34, emphasizes the essential role of faith. "Faith is, first of all, trust in Jesus' power to heal and transform us." (Senior et al., p.RG 395). All those who are healed in this section show that faith; and it is active, not passive faith (they approach God boldly, not merely waiting passively).
Some of the miracles and healings do not match up perfectly with Mark or Q sources. There are two possible reasons:
1) Matthew has edited them in order to make the points he wishes to make (which does not detract from the fact they occurred)
2) There were many healings...it is possible that some of the stories were similar simply because of repetitiveness.
Evidence towards the first theory is supported by 9:1-17, in which "there are three groups of opponents: scribes (v 3), Pharisees (v 11), and disciples of JBap (v 14). This reflects Matt's care to produce a neat, systemtic coverage of the situation" (Brown et al., p.649). This is also shown in that each of the 10 miracles in chapters 8 & 9 address different problems (leprosy, slavery, fever, natural disasters, demon possession, paralysis, death, hemorrhage, blindness, muteness).
Jennifer Becker Landsberger
Who am I? Freelance writer (magazines, websites, & copywriting), Catholic, military wife, and Mensan. Double Bachelor's in History & Psychology.
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~~~Prayer before Writing-
Oh creator of the universe, who has set the stars in the heavens and causes the sun to rise and set, shed the light of your wisdom into the darkness of my mind. Fill my thoughts with a loving knowledge of you, that I may bring you like to others. Just as you can make even babies speak your truth, instruct my tongue and guide my pen to convey the wonderful glory of the Gospel. Make my intellect sharp, my memory clear, and my words eloquent, so that I may faithfully interpret the mysteries what you have revealed.
To my readers & fellow writers,
1. I will pray that God's grace helps illuminate all of our interactions- both those of simple reading and more active conversations.
2. I will communicate with you respectfully and civilly. These are (rightly) issues which we feel passionate about. But even in disagreements, I will respect you fellow "seekers of truth."
3. I will not fall into negative behavior or words, such as insinuations, exaggerations, blames, or personal attacks. I respectfully ask you to do the same.
4. I will pray we will all find the truth and strive to fulfill the two greatest commandments: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12:30-31)
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Sites I Recommend
Biblical Evidence for Catholicism by Dave Armstrong