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The scene is set in the district of Galilee surrounding Jesus home base of Capernaum. He has won the crowd with his sermon on the mount. Now he demonstrates the authority of his words with action.
The section is masterfully broken into twelve sections.
The first three sections demonstrate Jesus’ healing ministry, to fulfill Isaiah 53:4. Notice that he is reaching across social boundaries by touching a leper, a Gentile, and a woman. These things were forbidden for a Jewish rabbi.
It is important to note the geography. Jesus is on the Jewish side of the Sea of Galilee.
His first words are to go “to the other side.” This is a foreshadowing of his boundary breaking ministry. People say they want to follow Jesus, but they don’t know where he is going. To follow Jesus “to the other side” will cost the follower everything.
These three vignettes demonstrate Jesus’ power. He has power over the sea (the ancient symbol of chaos). He has power over demons. He has power to forgive sins. Only God can do these things. This is why the scribes accuse him of blasphemy. They understand the claims Jesus is making. He has the authority of God.
The middle section ends with two encounters. First, Jesus calls Matthew. Jesus, again, crosses boundaries and befriends the hated tax collector, and even eats with them. These stories are summarized by the fulfillment of Hosea 6:6. God is less concerned with following the rituals of the Temple and more concerned that people treat each other with mercy.
Jesus is doing something new and fresh. It is new wine. New wine requires new wineskin. The people of God will look different from here on. No longer will God’s people be identified by ethnic heritage. God’s people are known by their mercy.
The final triad of vignettes shows Jesus healing again. This time the purpose of the stories is to note how the message of his ministry spread and how it was received. He was a rock star with the crowds. They loved him. The Pharisees could only see him as a demon. He was breaking all of their rules and it perplexed them.