First three sections of Matthew chapter 9 explained:
Jesus heals a paralytic
context: many Jews had the mistaken belief that disabilities were caused by sin (see John 9, where Jesus’ disciples ask why a man was born blind, whether it was because of his or his parents’ sins), but Jesus emphasizes that disabilities are not caused by sin, and that they can be healed, just as sins can be forgiven as well. both physical healing and spiritual forgiveness can be received through faith in Jesus.
i think what’s tough about this section is that i find it hard to answer Jesus’ response to the teachers of the law: “which is easier to say, ‘you are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘get up and walk?’”
more context: Jews lived in a system where the religious authorities (teachers of the law, Pharisees, Sadducees, priests) were in power, because they either mediated the interactions between people and God (through sacrifices and religious rituals) or made rules that governed how people should live to please God (e.g. no working on the Sabbath). when Jesus was alive, these rules had gotten way out of hand, to the point where the demands were ridiculously impossible (e.g. no walking a certain number of steps on the Sabbath) so Jesus came to fulfill the law through His sacrifice on the cross, so that we can have a direct relationship with God, regardless of our sins, and outside of the rules of the man-made religious establishment
i think when Jesus asks this question, He is challenging the teachers of the law, who are outraged by Jesus’ forgiveness of the sins of the paralytic. He is saying that He has authority, as the son of God and God incarnate (in the flesh) to forgive sins. He is challenging their assumption that forgiveness of sins is impossible without earning it through obedience of rules and perfection. when He heals the paralytic, He proves that He is the son of God and that He does have authority to forgive sin.
Calling of Matthew
context: (from the Bible Quizzers’ study guide for Matthew)
Romans (who ruled the land occupied by the Jews) sold a franchise of an area to the highest Jewish bidder, allowing them to collect taxes in the area. tax collectors were told how much they had to pay the Roman government, and could keep any extra they collected. as you can probably guess, the tax collectors were often corrupt and taxed people higher than they needed to, and pocketed the extra money. the Pharisees were probably justified in lumping Matthew the tax collector along with other sinners.
so emo, rite?
but Jesus cites Scripture to emphasize how God is concerned more about humility (a humble attitude) than about works (living a perfect life). “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” comes from Hosea 6:6, an Old Testament book written by Hosea, a prophet who married a prostitute, Gomer, who was unfaithful to him, as a metaphor for how the nations of Judah and Israel were unfaithful to God. Jesus’ uses this Scripture to show that God loves us so much that He would rather have us in close relationship with Him than be alienated and isolated by impossible rules and standards (sacrifice). in the same way, the Pharisees should have mercy on the Jews, rather than demanding that they make sacrifices that don’t bring them closer to God.
Jesus is saying that a) the sick, the sinners are the ones who are more humble and open to Jesus’ message of mercy and b) the sick and sinners are the ones who need a doctor and God’s grace the most, respectively
Jesus questioned about fasting
context: fasting was done for mourning, and to bring people closer to God
this is a lot simpler to explain— Jesus is like the bridegroom. as long as He is with his disciples (like the bridegroom is with the guests), the disciples should celebrate, because they do not need to do things to become close to God… He is right there with them!
more context: wine skins are made of animal skin (as I understand it), and burst when new wine is poured into old ones, because they have been stretched to their limit
no one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, no one pours new wine into old wine skins, just as you can’t add a new system onto old rules. Jesus is saying that with Him, there is a new system for approaching God. you have a direct relationship with God through faith that Jesus is the son of God (and later, that His death erases our sins and allows us to approach God without shame). although Jesus is the fulfillment of the old Jewish law (matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”), He is asking us to accept this new system for approaching God, and to become new themselves.
…basically circles back to making Christianity personal :)
YAY CAT YAYYYYY
i really encourage you to find some way of consistently reading the Bible— it will help you understand and make the most out of what you are learning.