Reading: Matthew 9:1-8
The teacher was asking questions and the kids were raising their hands. I was squirming in my seat. Normally I was among the active ones in our Sunday School class, but that morning I had questions that I was too embarrassed to ask. One was, I realised now, just a matter of sentence logic too complex for an 8-year old (i.e., “But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…. Get up, take your mat and go home.”). The other, more embarrassingly, is a question—or to put it more accurately, an attitude that I carried on to adulthood: “Didn’t the paralytic feel disappointed that he came to be healed but was forgiven instead?”
How many times had I been myopic in my views–wanting good health, wealth, fun, everything that the world views as beautiful and desirable, never mind the forgiveness of my sins, salvation and the love and service to the Redeemer of my soul. How could I had been wanting all my life to settle for second best, and not for what the Lord had best in mind for me?
For Jesus to say, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven”—I can imagine a man who was not only physically sick, but someone who was repentant and remorseful of his spiritual illness. Due to his paralysis he probably was not able to speak—but just as Jesus was able to see through the hearts of the teachers of the law, so did He see through this man a heart beseeching for forgiveness.
What gift, what blessing, what good thing could ever compare to the love of the Father for sending His Son to take my place of punishment; for Jesus to lay down his life for me, and call me His friend, or sister; for my adoption into the family of God, now and forever; for the gift of the Holy Spirit who sanctifies and empowers me to live a life pleasing to God? My second best was nowhere near God’s best. They were a cheap imitation of what true joy is.
“… Who is my mother, and who are my brothers? … Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” – Matthew 12:48,50 (NIV)
“Greater love has no-one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” – John 15:13-14 (NIV)
And what about healing? That, my friend, along with all the other good things, is included in the package.
“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows…. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:4-5 (NIV)
“Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins… Get up, take your mat and go home.” And the man got up and went home. – Matthew 9:5-7 (NIV)
“Don’t be deceived my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.” – James 1:16-18 (NIV)
“And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” – Mark 16:17-18 (NIV)