Who Needs a Doctor? 9 1Back in the boat, Jesus and the disciples recrossed the sea to Jesus’ hometown. 2They were hardly out of the boat when some men carried a paraplegic on a stretcher and set him down in front of them. Jesus, impressed by their bold belief, said to the paraplegic, “Cheer up, son. I forgive your sins.” 3Some religion scholars whispered, “Why, that’s blasphemy!” 4Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why this gossipy whispering? 5Which do you think is simpler: to say, ‘I forgive your sins,’ or, ‘Get up and walk’? 6Well, just so it’s clear that I’m the Son of Man and authorized to do either, or both. . . .” At this he turned to the paraplegic and said, “Get up. Take your bed and go home.” 7And the man did it. 8The crowd was awestruck, amazed and pleased that God had authorized Jesus to work among them this way. 9Passing along, Jesus saw a man at his work collecting taxes. His name was Matthew. Jesus said, “Come along with me.” Matthew stood up and followed him. 10Later when Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. 11When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. “What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?” 12Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? 13Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.”   Kingdom Come   14A little later John’s followers approached, asking, “Why is it that we and the Pharisees rigorously discipline body and spirit by fasting, but your followers don’t?” 15Jesus told them, “When you’re celebrating a wedding, you don’t skimp on the cake and wine. You feast. Later you may need to pull in your belt, but not now. No one throws cold water on a friendly bonfire. This is Kingdom Come!” 16He went on, “No one cuts up a fine silk scarf to patch old work clothes; you want fabrics that match. 17And you don’t put your wine in cracked bottles.”   Just a Touch   18As he finished saying this, a local official appeared, bowed politely, and said, “My daughter has just now died. If you come and touch her, she will live.” 19Jesus got up and went with him, his disciples following along. 20Just then a woman who had hemorrhaged for twelve years slipped in from behind and lightly touched his robe. 21She was thinking to herself, “If I can just put a finger on his robe, I’ll get well.” Jesus turned—caught her at it. Then he reassured her: “Courage, daughter. You took a risk of faith, and now you’re well.” 22The woman was well from then on. 23By now they had arrived at the house of the town official, and pushed their way through the gossips looking for a story and the neighbors bringing in casseroles. 24Jesus was abrupt: “Clear out! This girl isn’t dead. She’s sleeping.” They told him he didn’t know what he was talking about. 25But when Jesus had gotten rid of the crowd, he went in, took the girl’s hand, and pulled her to her feet—alive. 26The news was soon out, and traveled throughout the region.   Become What You Believe   27As Jesus left the house, he was followed by two blind men crying out, “Mercy, Son of David! Mercy on us!” 28When Jesus got home, the blind men went in with him. Jesus said to them, “Do you really believe I can do this?” They said, “Why, yes, Master!” 29He touched their eyes and said, “Become what you believe.” 30It happened. They saw. Then Jesus became very stern. “Don’t let a soul know how this happened.” 31But they were hardly out the door before they started blabbing it to everyone they met. 32Right after that, as the blind men were leaving, a man who had been struck speechless by an evil spirit was brought to Jesus. 33As soon as Jesus threw the evil tormenting spirit out, the man talked away just as if he’d been talking all his life. The people were up on their feet applauding: “There’s never been anything like this in Israel!” 34The Pharisees were left sputtering, “Hocus–pocus. It’s nothing but hocus–pocus. He’s probably made a pact with the Devil.” 35Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. 36When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. 37“What a huge harvest!” he said to his disciples. “How few workers! 38On your knees and pray for harvest hands!”
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