Whereas the preceding narrative introduces the notion that forgiveness is a primary focus of Jesus' mission (v. 9), this narrative carries that point further and uses Jesus' healing ministry as an acted parable of his most important mission: repairing our lives broken by sin (v. 12). Surrounding narratives also demonstrate that it is the broken, such as paralytics, blind people, lepers and those in mourning, who recognize their need for God's help.
Matthew here shows us that the morally and socially reprobate sometimes humble themselves more readily than religious people. Having often witnessed the fruit of sensitive personal evangelism on the streets, I fear that sometimes we spend too much time trying to convert a few resistant sinners in the church while neglecting more sinners afraid to set foot in a church. Sometimes the latter have developed less resistance to the gospel; sometimes they are outside the church precisely because of the words or behavior of some within the church.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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