HEALING AND WHOLENESS
Dear God, the ever good one, as I open your Word, open to me the bread of life that I may be satisfied and share with others.
Read Matthew 9:1–8
Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man
9 Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2 Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
3 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”
4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” 7 Then the man got up and went home. 8 When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Amazing grace! How sweet the sound / that saved a wretch like me!’1
Whatever the friends of the paralyzed man hoped for in bringing him to Jesus, it presumably wasn’t for him to remain on his mat. Matthew says that Jesus saw their faith (v 2) and he responded in love and grace towards the paralyzed man, just as he did to the faith of the centurion.2 Yet neither the friends nor the centurion could dictate to Jesus how he should touch the life of the one they brought to him in faith. Neither can we. Many of us have prayed for people to be made well and felt our prayers were unanswered.
It may help to consider that the breadth of God’s grace surpasses physical healing. Here, the grace that Jesus extends to the paralyzed man is forgiveness of sins (v 2). Does this seem to you like a second-best gift? In many Western secular societies today, the concept of ‘sin’ has lost its meaning outside religious contexts. Likewise, we don’t always realize the full power of the words ‘your sins are forgiven’, unless we have experienced a radical conversion to Christ that transforms the way we live. This is a problem of our perception. Jesus graciously healed the paralyzed man anyway, explicitly so that his observers would know that he had ‘authority on earth to forgive sins’ (v 6) – not that he only had authority to heal physically.
Do we need to grasp again the incredible truth that our sinfulness, which pervades our human existence, is completely forgiven in Christ? It is only when we fall to our knees in worship that we can truly perceive the greatness of God, our hopelessness in comparison, and the wonder of his love, releasing us from all that binds. Take heart, child, he says. Your sins are forgiven.
Pray: ‘Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!’3
Thank you Lord Jesus; because of your death on the cross, my sins are forgiven, forgotten, forever.
1 John Newton, 1725–1807 2 Matt 8:10 3 Rom 7:24,25, TNIV
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