Sunday, March 17, 2013
You can go to any hospital... any city... and find people in desperate physical need. Need for healing. Need for faith in something bigger than themselves.
Each of us probably knows someone in our circle of friends and family that have suffered from cancer, heart problems, disability, disease and on and on. They are seeking for a cure. Looking for answers to their pain.
Most likely we find even more in our circle that are crippled or diseased spiritually. They are walking and talking, but they are lost.
"Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralytic lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Take heart, son, your sins are forgiven.' At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, 'This fellow is blaspheming!' Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, 'Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 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... Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home". And the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this they were filled with awe, and they praised God, who had given such authority to men." (Matthew 9: 1-8)
Because of the faith of this man's friends and because of his obvious need, Jesus reached out to him. He offered forgiveness which was also the most immediate need of this man. Without forgiveness, physical healing would not mean a thing.
Without Jesus and His forgiveness, we are dead and our bodies and brains just haven’t noticed yet.
Jesus realized that the "religious" would attack him for such audacity. These teachers of the law that were looking on with judging and critical attitudes were Jewish. The Jewish people's life was ruled by the Old Testament Law handed down by Moses. Ritual sacrifice was made to God for the forgiveness of sin at the proper place and time. Only God could forgive sin. No one on earth .. no mortal man had the power to forgive sin.
These learned men did not recognize Jesus for who He is, and accused Him of blaspheming God. They thought He had no authority to forgive sin. They looked at each other and said "Say what? This guy is either insane or he is deliberately profaning the LAW. We gotta do something about that."
To prove otherwise to them, Jesus told them that he could read their minds and then He provided the physical healing. Only then were these guys impressed. They were finally in awe and praised God.
A healing miracle was okay with them, but the power to forgive sin went beyond their ability to believe.
He asked the question "Which is easier?" Jesus had every intention of healing this man physically, but He was attempting to show the authority and reality of God at work in a way that was new and probably a bit frightening to those in ‘power’.
Jesus had “authority” which means power. “To exercise power” “to act on your own authority.. To have dominion”
To the One that spoke all of creation into being, healing a man's crippling disability was as easy as breathing. Forgiving the same man of the sin inherent in his nature took the torture and death and resurrection of the only Son of God. Which was easier?
The Pharisees had no idea that their promised Messiah stood before them.
The paralytic's life was completely changed.
Just as we ‘know that we know’ that something has happened within us when we are saved, this man “knew that he knew” something inside of him was different. He had just been washed clean and pure by the God of all creation. He probably wanted to jump up and shout Hallelujah!
However, just like so many of us that are saved, even though he had been forgiven he was still bound up in the physical crippling of this world. It kept him nailed to the ground until Jesus spoke.
A new Christian, without instruction and help to grow, will easily become entangled in the ‘world’ that he was just saved from.
What the teachers of the Law could not see was that without the forgiveness of sin, even though the man was physically healed, he would still be spiritually paralyzed.
When Jesus forgave this man, he was saved at that instant. His life would never be the same. What happened in his spirit was far more important than the physical healing that came next. He was blessed over and above the teachers of the Law who simply witnessed a miracle and still did not understand what was going on before their very eyes.
Healing was simple for Jesus. No problem for him. But the order in which these things took place is important. This is about His authority.
Do we acknowledge His authority in our lives? His authority to forgive us? If we don't forgive ourselves for things that the Lord has forgiven us already, then we are putting doubt on His authority and ability.
If God forgives, it is over and done with. He wants us to live in His forgiveness, uncrippled any longer by our sin.
Living in His forgiveness also empowers us to walk in His grace and power in His kingdom. We are no longer crippled by the sin that held us to this world.
How many times do we go to prayer asking for material or physical things? Lord.. please send a miracle... Lord please help me with my finances... Lord I really need for my kids to do right... Lord, please help me with this problem... These are physical needs and they are important to us and to God.
Unless we have met Jesus spiritually and have asked for and received His forgiveness.. asked Him to be our Savior, these physical things that we think we need are irrelevant. We are like the Pharisees, accepting the physical miracles but rejecting the spiritual victory.
We beg Jesus for things. Please meet my physical need... My earthly need. We are so determined to provide for our physical body which will rot and die, and not too concerned at all about asking Him for spiritual things. Forgiveness, restoration, joy, peace, spiritual maturity, growth.
These are spiritual gifts that come from a relationship with God himself. These are the things that will be with us for eternity.
Without these spiritual blessings, we are the paralytic. Our bodies and our spirits dying and dead.