1. So Jesus stepped back into the boat with His disciples, and crossed over to return to his hometown.
2. And as they were stepping out of the boat, some men brought a paraplegic lying on a stretcher right up to them, and set him down directly in front of Jesus. When He saw how their faith in Him was manifested by this bold action, He said to the man, "Not to worry my son…be happy today…I forgive all of your sins!"
3. Upon hearing this, some of the teachers of the law who stood nearby said to themselves, "Who does this arrogant blasphemer think He is?!"
4. Perceiving their innermost thoughts, Jesus said them, "Why do you embrace such an evilly negative and limited paradigm?
5. Let me ask you experts something, which do you think is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up off of that stretcher and walk'?
6. But just so you will know that the Son of Man, indeed, has authority on earth to forgive sins, listen to this. Then he turned to the paralyzed man and said, "Get up now, pick up your own stretcher, and go on home."
7. Then the man just got up and went home, exactly as Jesus had commanded.
8. When the crowd saw this miracle, they were collectively filled with awe, and spontaneously and instinctively began to praise God, who had given this kind of authority to human beings.
9. As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew, sitting at his work in the tax collector's booth. He moved to the front of the tax line and said to him, directly, "Follow me". And, without any question, Matthew got up and followed him, leaving his business behind him.
10. Some time later, while Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many other tax collectors, and disreputable people who were known as sinners came and ate with Him and His disciples.
11. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher fraternize and even sit down and eat with people like this…tax collectors…sinners…the scum of the earth?"
12. Jesus, overhearing this, indignantly retorted, "Who do you think needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick?
13. If you really want to understand my connection with these people, then go figure out what this Scripture means: 'I'm all about mercy, not religious pretense.' Don’t you see? I'm here to minister to the sick ones…not to reinforce the delusions of the self-righteous!
14. Then the disciples of John came and said to Him, "The Pharisees subject themselves to fasting often, and we certainly do, as well…but, as far as we can tell, your disciples do not. Tell us…why is that?”
15. “Well, it’s like this”, Jesus answered, "the guests of the bridegroom cannot mourn while He is with them. But he time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and then they will fast.
16. "No one sews a patch of cloth that has not been shrunk on an old garment, because the patch will pull away from the garment, making the original tear even worse.
17. Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins, because, if they do, the skins will burst; and the wine will run out. As a result, the wineskins will be ruined. That’s why they pour new wine into new wineskins…that way, both are preserved."
18. While he was saying this, a prominent synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, "My daughter has just died, but I believe that if you will come and put your hand on her, she will live again."
19. Without any hesitation, Jesus just got up and went with him, as did his disciples.
20. Almost immediately, a woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve full years came up behind him and grabbed the border of his coat.
21. She had the courage to do this because she had been continually saying to herself, and within herself, "I believe that if I can just make physical contact with Him…even if I’m only able to touch the edge of His clothes…I will be healed!"
22. Jesus turned and saw into her, and said, "Celebrate what has just happened within you, daughter…it’s your own, daring faith that has healed you." And the woman was healed from that very moment.
23. When Jesus entered the synagogue leader's house and saw the noisy crowd, and the professional mourners playing pipes,
24. He said, "Every one of you needs to leave this room right now. The girl is not dead as you perceive death…but in another reality she is simply asleep." But they mocked this concept and laughed at him.
25. But they were expelled from the room, anyway, and after the entire crowd had vacated the premises, He went in and took the girl by the hand. When He touched her, life came into her body, and she got up.
26. Understandably, news of this event spread quickly throughout the whole region.
27. As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, "Son of David, have mercy…have mercy on us!"
28. When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to Him, and He asked them both, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" "Absolutely, Lord," they replied.
29. Then He touched their eyes and said, "According to your own, persistent faith, let it be done to you now";
30. and their sight was restored. But Jesus warned them quite sternly, "I don’t want you to tell anyone about what has happened here."
31. But they couldn’t keep quiet about it, and went right out and spread the news about Him and His healing power all over the surrounding area.
32. not long after that, a man who had been struck speechless by a controlling, evil spirit was brought to Jesus for help.
33. And when the spirit was driven out, the man who had been mute clearly spoke. When the crowd heard him, they were amazed and said, "We’ve never seen things like this happen in all of Israel!"
34. But the Pharisees were unimpressed, as usual, and said, "If this so-called miracle is even real at all, it is because He has made a pact with the prince of evil spirits.”
35. But Jesus kept performing miracles, anyway. He went through all the nearby towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and confirming its reality by healing every disease and sickness.
36. When he saw how the crowds kept coming, and how broken they were, collectively, as well as individually, He had compassion on them. Not only were they sick and unhealthy, but they were scattered and without an identity as a people. They lacked effective, spiritual leadership, and so were like sheep without a shepherd.
37. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is abundant, and has so much potential, but the workers are few.
38. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field (which is the whole world)…workers who can discern the fullness of it."