These small group studies of Matthew contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, teaching points, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Matthew 9:1-13 Inductive Bible Study – Discussion Questions and Teaching Points
- Healing of the paralytic (1-7)
- The calling of Matthew (8-13)
I. Healing of the paralytic (1-7) (See https://www.calligraphyforgod.com/biblestudy/mark2-1-20.html)
What do each of the events recorded in this chapter have in common? Can you think of a common thread that links them all together?
What was Jesus focused on when the people gathered together? What were many of the people gathered for?
What do we learn from Mark 2:4 about the houses the people lived in?
Why did they go to such great effort for Jesus to see this paralytic?
Why do you think Jesus only said to the one man that his sins were forgiven instead of to all five? What did He see in that situation that we cannot?
In this passage what is the relationship between their faith and their works?
How did the scribes react? Why did they react like this?
Which do you think is easier to say (verse 5)?
How did the people react to this healing?
What insights into Jesus’ character do you have from this passage?
Are there any applications for us to follow?
Driving away our sins:
Psalm 103:12 – As far as the east is from the west
Jeremiah 31:34 – I will forgive their wickedness and remember their sins no more.
Isaiah 43:25 – Only God can forgive sins.
Matthew 8:20 – Another use of “Son of Man”
You will notice that in this chapter many of the events center on a controversy between Jesus and the spiritual leaders. There is controversy about Jesus’ forgiving sins, about Jesus choosing sinners, about fasting, and about Jesus’ power in casting out the demons (34). These were some of the key quarrels that the religious leaders focused on when attacking Jesus. From this chapter we see a distinct difference from the last chapter. We have seen flocks of people were following Jesus. Everywhere he went, he was popular. People crowded to see Him and listen to Him. But not everything was smooth. There was a key and powerful element of opposition to Jesus’ ministry. This was partially motivated by the jealousy of the religious leaders who saw these flocks of people listening to Jesus instead of them. Take special note throughout the chapter of the disagreements, the motivation of these disagreements, and how Jesus resolves them.
- Verse 1 – His own city = Capernaum.
- Verse 2 – “They brought.” We can learn more about the identify of these men in Mark 2. These men were very persistent in getting to Jesus (see Mark 2), coming through the ceiling in order to get an audience with Jesus. They didn’t let any obstacle keep them from him. We should also set Jesus as the priority in our own lives. Don’t let anything keep you from spending time with Him and serving Him. Their faith was evident from their actions. Is our faith equally evident?
- Application: Is Jesus so important to us that we are willing to do anything to get to Him? There are many things in our way trying to prevent us to come to Jesus. Like what? Some are tangible obstacles, like noise from kids or busyness. Others are spiritual obstacles from within like laziness or worry or spiritual obstacles from without like persecution or temptation from our surroundings. Jesus is the priority. We must make a way to get to Him even if there seems to be no way. We must make time for him in the midst of our busy schedules and come up with solutions to other things (like kids’ noise) that keep us from spending quality time with him.
- What do we learn about friendship from what these men did for the paralytic? Do you have friends like this in your life? Are you this kind of friend towards others?
- Application: We should care for the sick. The first step is to visit them in the hospital or at their homes. We should show special care and do whatever we can to help those in need. God wants us to be a good friend to others. That means we have to come out of our self absorption to notice and care for others.
- Jesus publicly forgave the paralytic’s sin. It is interesting that he forgave his sin, and doesn’t mention that of those who carried him. That would lead me to believe that it was this man who convinced/persuaded his friends to keep trying (Therefore we should should use positive peer pressure to encourage others to go to Jesus and do what is right, even if we need to insist on it.) In any case, Jesus certainly saw into his heart and observed his faith. Only God has power to forgive sins. By forgiving the man’s sins before healing Him, Jesus knew what his biggest need was. His greatest need was not the need for physical healing, but it was the need for spiritual healing. We should also keep this in mind either while we are in pain and suffering and also when we pray for others. We should care for people’s physical needs, but not at the expense of their spiritual needs. Spiritual healing is the priority. If we only feed and cloth someone without sharing the gospel for them we have only helped them temporarily. Therefore a good ministry must find a way to share the gospel with people or it will not make a long lasting (eternal) difference in their lives. At the same time, if we share the good news while ignoring their physical needs, they will be less likely to show interest in spiritual things.
- The scribes who were there rightly concluded only God could forgive sins, but wrongly concluded (against all evidence) that Jesus was not God. Because only God can forgive sins He is the one we must go to. While we should ask people for their forgiveness, God forgives even when people don’t. Also, if God forgives someone, who are we not to?
- Verse 6 – Jesus, Son of Man. See Daniel 7:13-14.
- Verse 8 – Jesus shows His omniscient character in that He can read their thoughts.
- Jesus demonstrated power over illness by healing him, which also proved that He had power to forgive sins. Just for second, imagine that the man didn’t get up. Jesus commands him to rise, his friends seek to stand him up, the man focuses and exerts himself, but nothing happens and he collapses back to the ground. What would have happened to Jesus’ ministry? The crowds would have gradually dispersed. The Pharisees would have smugly pronounced that Jesus couldn’t forgive sins OR heal. The landlord would have glanced at the ceiling and thought, “what a waste!” But that didn’t happen. The man did get up. This is a reminder that Jesus and His miracles were real. If he was a fake, or an imposter his ministry would have collapsed and the church would not have been established. If he was just a good magician someone would have finally discovered his “tricks” and when Jesus was exposed His followers would disband. The belief and sacrifice of those closest to Jesus continues to be a strong evidence that Jesus is who He said He was.
- The people were amazed and glorified God.
II. The calling of Matthew (8-13)
Who is Levi?
How were tax collectors viewed by other Jews? Why?
Why might a person become a tax collector? What can we learn from this about Matthew’s past? What can we learn from this about Jesus?
Why did He choose someone he knew would be looked down on by most Jews?
What did the Pharisees think of Jesus’ habit of associating with these types of people?
What was Jesus’ explanation for this? What does this mean?
What can we learn from this? Is there anything we need to do either in ministry or just as a person to be more like Jesus in this area?
Matthew 19:24 – Easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter heaven.
Luke 3:12-13 – Jesus told tax collectors to collect no more than they had been authorized to do.
Luke 7:34 – They accused Jesus of being a glutton and friend of tax collectors.
Luke 15:1-32 – Jesus tells parables about why he did ministry to sinners.
Luke 19:1-10 – Zacchaeus, a tax collector, repents.
This account is similar to Jesus calling Peter and the other disciples who were fishermen. Once again we see that Jesus called a disciple who had low social status. This time it wasn’t because of a low education level, but because of a perceived low morality. From this we learn again that God does choose who one would expect. He doesn’t just choose the educated or the moral. Last week we learned that He chose a man who was possessed by a legion of demons. From this we learn several important lessons:
- God can and does save anybody.
- Do not judge a person’s receptiveness based on your own knowledge. Do not look at people and think that this one will be more likely to receive the gospel and that one will be less likely. Give the chance to all because we don’t know who God will choose and who will respond. It may be the one you least expect.
- Maturity is not just knowledge. Once again Jesus chooses someone without a lot of knowledge. But Matthew obeys. Obedience is what God is looking for.
- We should care for and show compassion to the down and out. Prostitutes, adulterers, homosexuals, corrupt businessmen, etc. should all be welcomed by us to church. We should be friendly and kind to them or people with any type of sins, because it is these people who need the Lord and it tends to be these people will be more likely to respond. Show compassion.
- Tax collectors – In the time of Jesus, tax collectors had a very bad reputation. Firstly, they were considered to be sellouts to the Romans. The Romans were a foreign occupying force over Judea. They were often times very cruel and mistreated the Jews. In addition to acts of brutality, they taxed them, sometimes severely. A loyal Jewish sect called Zealots reacted against this occupation by acts of terrorism against the Romans. Most people didn’t resort to overt acts of violence, but harbored bitterness and hatred in their heart towards the Romans. Tax collectors were Jews who worked for the Romans for personal gain. Basically they helped Rome gather taxes from their own countrymen. Tax gatherers are never popular in any country, but especially in this case. But this wasn’t the only reason tax collectors were almost universally hated. The other is that they often collected much more than the amount required and pocketed the difference. While those paying taxes knew this, there was little they could do to stop it. Generally only a person of the lowest moral character who valued money above all else would be willing to sell out their own country (and alienate them) like this. Matthew was one of them.
- Jesus is not afraid of the backlash of choosing Matthew as a disciple. While we don’t know all of Jesus’ motives, one clear result is that we once again see that every sinner can be saved no matter what they had done before. Jesus can take the lowest outcast and transform him completely.
- Jesus gives the same command, “Follow me” that he gave to the other disciples. This time it has some different implication. Matthew was sitting in a tax booth at the time. His life prior to this was likely characterized by the greed and desire for materials we have mentioned above. To follow Jesus, he would have to give up this life. He could not follow Jesus and continue sitting in the tax booth ripping off his countrymen at the same time. His life was at a crossroads and he had to make a choice. During another point in Jesus’ ministry another man had to make a similar choice. A rich young ruler (Mark 10:10-17) chose his riches over Christ and turned away from becoming Jesus’ disciple.
Follow Me. Jesus is the ultimate authority. The command reflects His divine right to command, to lead. I would not dare to tell someone “follow me” because I am not worth following. But Jesus did because He is the only one worth following. Jesus has the authority to command the wind and the water to obey His voice. He has the authority to command demons. And He himself was not under any authority as he told Pilate “you would have no authority over me if it were not given you from above.” He had the authority to command the disciples to follow Him, just as He has the authority to command us to follow Him.
But not everyone obeys it. Not everyone heeds his call. Jesus has the power to command, but we also have the responsibility to obey. This command is so simple. And yet it shows us the entire essence of being a disciple of Jesus. This is what a disciple does. He follows. It is the core responsibility of being a disciple. Jesus did not say, “Go to church and I will make you a fisher of men.” He did not say, “Study theological books and I will make you a fisher of men.” He did not say, “Adhere to a set of doctrinal beliefs and I will make you a fisher of men.” He did not even say, “Read the Scriptures and I will make you a fisher of men.” He did not say those things because those things are not an essence of what a disciple is. None of those things is guaranteed to change somebody. But following Jesus no matter the cost did change them and will change us. There are two sides to following Jesus.
- Firstly, following Jesus meant forsaking something. They had to give up and renounce everything else. Jesus must be the first priority. What exactly did they have to renounce?
- Sin – A lot of people like to try to put one foot in God’s kingdom and one foot in this world. They like to feel the peace of being part of God’s family and joining church and the safety of thinking they have eternal life. At the same time, they like to keep their own lifestyle. Some things in their lives they don’t want to give up. They are enjoying the world too much. Some so called churches have no problem with this. These churches proclaim tolerance and welcome for all. Should we welcome all kinds of people to join? Does Jesus welcome all kinds of people? The answer is “yes,” Jesus does welcome all kinds of people. No matter what kind of sinner you are, Jesus will welcome you. No matter what sin you have done, Jesus is happy to have you as His follower. He let the tax-collectors, the prostitutes, and all the lowest sinners in society become his followers. But (and this word is very important!), He did not welcome their sin or allow them to follow Him without changing their lives. He told the adulteress who was about to be stoned to go her way and SIN NO MORE!! Also when Zaccheus became a follower of Jesus he first went back to the people he had cheated and paid them back what he had stolen and even more. To follow Jesus we must forsake our sin!
- Their way of life (job) – All the disciples had known was fishing. It was their job. It was their livlihood. They grew up next to the Sea of Galilee. It is likely that they learned fishing from their own fathers. They were good at it. Fishing was the way that they took care of their families. I lived near the ocean in the US and knew a family of fishermen there. The father was a captain of a boat and took people out to fish. He loved it. And his sons grew up loving it. Both of them also became captains of their own boats. Fishing on the vast sea is peaceful and calm. It is a beautiful experience. You are immersed in nature without a building in sight. His family were like “people of the sea.” For them to give up fishing and pursue a different career would be unimaginable. Fishing was part of their identity. But the disciples were willing to give it up to follow Jesus. Following Jesus changed their identity, the very direction of their lives. It meant being surrounded by people instead of being surrounded by water and nature. It meant giving up their source of income and their security. How could they make money following Jesus? How could they take care of their families? They probably didn’t have the answers, but they believed in Jesus and followed Him anyway. Application: If Jesus called you, would you give up your job for Him? Would you give up your career for Him? Jesus has already called us to put Him in first place. Does your job take first place instead? If you allow yourselves to become so busy in your careers that you are distracted from serving the Lord, then you have chosen to follow your jobs instead of following Jesus. Following Jesus means putting Him first over your job!
- Himself – See Matthew 16:24. Following Jesus meant denying themselves. Here is a possible job advert describing the job the disciples were going to do: LONG HOURS! LOTS OF OVERTIME! MUST BE WILLING TO WORK ON WEEKENDS! MUST BE ABLE TO TRAVEL OFTEN! MUST BE WILLING TO ACCEPT THE CHEAPEST MODES OF TRAVEL, GENERALLY BY FOOT, FOR LONG DISTANCES! DANGEROUS! POTENTIAL THREATS FROM THIEVES AND SOLDIERS! WILL NOT PAY FOR HOTELS! SLEEP WHERE AND HOW YOU CAN, SOMETIMES OUTSIDE IN THE ELEMENTS! POLITICAL CLIMATE IN COUNTRY IS DANGEROUS! PERFORMING JOB WILL PUT YOUR LIFE IN DANGER! YOU WILL BE EXPOSED TO PUBLIC RIDICULE AND PERSECUTION! COMPENSATION: NO PAY! NO INSURANCE! NO PENSION! NO HOUSING FUND! NO PAID VACATION! QUALIFICATIONS NEEDED: COMPLETE OBEDIENCE. DENY YOURSELVES AND OBEY THE BOSS COMPLETELY IN EVERY AREA! How does this job sound to you? You are all in a hurry to line up and apply? The last part of the job advertisement goes like this: Benefits: Learn face to face from the Creator of the world. Become friends with the King of Kings. Discover real joy. Gain a new purpose in life. Eternal life. The costs of this job are high, but the benefits are worth it. Will you deny yourself and follow the Lord?
- Other authorities – Jesus was the new ultimate authority in their life. Read Matthew 6:24.
- Relationships – Jesus demanded their highest allegiance. They were to put Jesus’ interests first over anyone else. They were to listen to and follow His instructions instead of others’. Read Luke 14:26. Your first loyalty should not be to your parents or your spouse, or your boss or your girlfriend or your children. It should be to Jesus.
- Secondly, following Jesus meant a new direction. Read John 14:6. And Ephesians 4:22-24 (old self and new). See also John 6:66-68 (many disciples turned away from Him, but Peter said Jesus had the words of life.) In a few minutes we will learn more about this new direction.
- Matthew did not make the same mistake as the rich, young ruler. Instead he willingly left his life and followed Jesus. He gave up a very profitable career because he could not do this with a clear conscience and follow God at the same time. How about you? What are you willing to give up for Jesus? Or perhaps a better question, what are you not willing to give up? Is there something you are holding back and just can’t quite let go of? I would like each person to just think about it for a moment. If something comes to mind, confess this to God, pray for His strength and grace, and make up your mind to let it go.
More to come soon