Healing in this life, or making this life better somehow, is ultimately meaningless unless we respond to Jesus in faith. Jesus is focused on the eternal person, the spiritual person. That’s where his priority is, and I think that is where our priorities should be also.
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Matthew #30 . Matthew 9:1-8
This time, we will take the incident with the paralyzed man and his friends. Mark and Luke include the detail that the paralytic man’s friends couldn’t get him through the crowd, so they lowered him from the roof to set him in front of Jesus. Once again, there is no reason to assume that this contradicts Matthew. Matthew often omits details supplied by Luke and Mark. Again, I think it is the result of the fact that Matthew is relying primarily upon his own memory of these events, whereas Mark and Luke had to do research before writing, thus turning up details that Matthew either forgot, or did not think were important. Matthew is usually concerned most of all with focusing on what Jesus said and did, rather than giving extraneous details.
What Jesus says first is quite surprising. These men had brought their paralyzed friend and laid him in front of Jesus. What would you say? I might say something like:
“You are blessed to have such friends – take comfort from them!” Or maybe “See how many people love you!” If I had healing in mind, I might have said, “Do you believe you can be healed?”
But Jesus looks at him and says: “Have courage, son, your sins are forgiven.”
Matthew records that this caused a murmur among some of the onlookers; they called it blasphemy. Luke and Mark explain why:
“Why does He speak like this? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone? ” (Mark 2:7, HCSB)
We need to be clear here. This is one more answer to the question: “When did Jesus claim to be God?” By telling this man his sins were forgiven, Jesus was claiming to speak as God, and many of the people at the time understood that was exactly what he was implying; that’s why they called it blasphemy.
So, I do think that one reason Jesus says this is to let people know who he is, and to set up the opportunity with this paralytic to more or less prove it. But I think there is something else here. I think Jesus also says it for the sake of the paralyzed man. John records an incident where Jesus’ disciples encountered a blind beggar:
As He was passing by, He saw a man blind from birth. His disciples questioned Him: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? ” (John 9:1-2, HCSB)
In that culture, it was common to think that if someone had a great physical disability, it was the result of some sort of sin. It was considered punishment from God. It is very likely that this man felt not only the misery of his condition, but also the misery of knowing that he had caused it by his sin, and public shame that everyone else knew what a bad sinner he must be.
Into this situation, Jesus spoke in front of large group of people, publicly removing his sin and shame. Now, everyone sins, and there is no doubt that this man, like every other human being, committed sins. Jesus did not say, “you didn’t sin.” That would have been a lie, and the man would have known it was a lie. But Jesus says, in front of a big crowd: “You are forgiven. You sin isn’t on you anymore.”
There is an old debate among Christians about whether it is more important to care for a person’s physical need, or address her spiritual condition. One argument says that you should start with caring for the physical need, and only then, once that need is addressed, will she be able to really hear the gospel and respond appropriately to it. I want to point out that Jesus did not take that approach here. To Jesus, the most important thing to do for this paralyzed man was to free him from the paralysis of sin and shame. Of course, he did eventually address the physical need also, but he started with the spiritual problem, which goes against a lot of today’s conventional Christian practice.
There’s another thing about Jesus’ approach that I think is very important for Christians in America and other well-off countries. We put so much focus on this life, and what we can get out of living on earth. Many American Christians have even come to see Christianity as a means to attaining a safe and comfortable life here on earth, and many of them abandon God when that doesn’t seem to work out. In fact, I believe that Christianity as a whole has never been more focused on this life, and making things comfortable here on earth; and I believe that is a huge mistake. The truth is, that paralyzed man’s body has been dead for two-thousand years now. The healing he received back then is meaningless to him right now. What Jesus really wanted to give him was something eternal – forgiveness, leading to reconciliation with God and the promise of a body that will never die or become ill. Suppose Jesus had not healed the man. He would have had a hard life, lasting maybe 80 years, and he would have experienced a high level of suffering, for sure. Even so, presuming he did respond to Jesus in faith, for the last 2,000 years he has been in glorious grace and joy, and he still has an eternal, imperishable body to look forward to, one that will be forever healthy. The eternal, spiritual gift is much greater than the gift that lasts only for one mortal life. Healing in this life, or making this life better somehow, is ultimately meaningless unless we respond to Jesus in faith. Jesus is focused on the eternal person, the spiritual person. That’s where his priority is, and I think that is where our priorities should be also.
But of course, some of the people in the crowd doubted that Jesus could provide the eternal gift. The healing miracle wasn’t primarily about making life easier for the paralytic. It was to prove to the people – and to the paralyzed man himself – that the forgiveness and eternal life Jesus offers is real. In fact, Jesus himself tells us that this is the reason for the miracle:
But so you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — then He told the paralytic, “Get up, pick up your mat, and go home.” And he got up and went home. (Matt 9:6-7, HCSB)
What Jesus said was basically this: “You think I don’t have the authority to say this man’s sins are forgiven? Well let me show you what kind of authority I have: get up, son, and walk.”
Think about what a gift this was to the paralyzed man. Of course, it is huge that he has the full use of his body. But imagine him a year or two later, feeling aware of his failings, wondering if he is truly forgiven. All he has to do is think: “Can I walk? All right then, as sure as I can walk, I am forgiven.”
Pause for a moment and internalize this message. We all have things that we want changed in our lives. That’s normal and natural. We don’t have to feel badly for wishing that we were healthier, or had better opportunities, or that our marriage would be better, or any number of things. But we need to take our cue from Jesus – the eternal is greater and more important than our temporary struggles and trials.
The apostle Paul understood this. He wrote:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. (Rom 8:18, HCSB)
If you know anything about Paul, you know he had a lot of suffering in his life. But he didn’t consider that his sufferings had any comparison to the eternal joy and grace that were waiting for him. The difference between the suffering and the glory is so vast that the suffering doesn’t even deserve mention.
Fixing our lives here and now is pointless if we are not made right with God by trusting in Jesus. And even just one hundred years from now, it won’t matter to us one bit whether or not we had a better house, or a healthier body or an easier time paying our bills. However, everything will hinge upon whether or not we trusted and followed Jesus and received the grace and forgiveness he offers us.
I don’t mean it is wrong to try to relieve suffering on earth. I don’t even think it is wrong to try and better your own life. But I think both things are pointless if we don’t start out by receiving Jesus, and continue by trusting and obeying him. If your struggles and aspirations for this life here and now are getting in the way of Jesus in your life, listen to what Jesus says. “My child, let’s start with the eternal issue. Let me start by getting you in right relationship with me. We can deal with the other stuff – or not – later, as I see fit. Only trust me.”
Let Jesus speak to you first about the important issues, the eternal ones. Forgiveness and reconciliation with God are central to all our needs. These are more important than your immediate problem with this life. Jesus thought this was true, even for a man who was paralyzed.
We can’t pretend we don’t sin. And the excuse “everybody sins, anyway” doesn’t get us anywhere either. We may repeat that to ourselves, but if we’re honest, we know it isn’t good enough. What we need is true forgiveness, true acceptance. It starts with realizing that we are as helpless as a paralyzed man lying on a mat. True acceptance means that someone knows us truly for who we are, and yet forgives us anyway, and that is exactly what we have through the sacrifice of Jesus.
Pause and listen to Jesus for minute. Hear him say to you: “Take courage, my child. You are forgiven. Your shame is removed. Yes it is – it really is. I have the power to make a paralyzed man walk, of course I have the power to forgive you and remove your shame.”
Can we get it through our heads that what Jesus offers us is infinitely more valuable than the ability to walk is to a paralyzed man? He offers us something that will continue to bless and impact us through the infinite corridors of eternity, while we ask for shiny toys we will play with today and break tomorrow.
There is one other thing here. The way the paralyzed man’s friends acted is a great example for us. The man himself was helpless. They were helpless in that there was nothing they could do for him either. But they did the one thing they could – they simply brought him, and laid him in front of Jesus. This is a tremendous and encouraging picture of what we do when we pray. We take our friends and our own burdens, and set them down in front of Jesus. Jesus did what he wanted to with the man. He started out by addressing a need that none of them even thought about – the spiritual need.
Next time you pray, think about these friends of the paralytic. Picture yourself taking your loved ones and your own personal burdens and setting them down in front of Jesus. Be sure and bring them to him, but let Jesus decide what to do with them, and trust that what he will do is best for all eternity.
Let the Holy Spirit speak to you today.
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2 thoughts on “WHY DOES JESUS HEAL?”
Reblogged this on Tricia's Journal Jots Blog and commented:
Excellent sermon by Pastor Tom.
Thank you Pastor Tom, your message touched my heart greatly because when I wake up every day it is evidence that my horrific sins have been forgiven, why because I should be dead. To save detail here and hopefully it is OK with you, I will leave a link that gives evidence of this reality for you.
Rescued – http://freedomborn.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/jesus-rescued-his-lost-sheep/
Yes Salvation is a free gift but we will show we have it… As we can see confirmed in the Scripture below, we have been set free from the Slavery of sin and having put our flesh to death and being perfected in Love, when we are Born Again, we will no longer sin, to say we do means we are denying we have God’s seed which means we have His Nature not Adams, that we do not have Jesus living in us, if we do He does not sin and we are saying we do not have the mind of Christ because if we do, He does not choose to sin and we are not agreeing with God’s Truth that No Temptation to sin will be greater than we can bear.
John 8:34-36 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
1 John 3:9 No one who is Born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been Born of God.
1 John 3: 1-11 ( 6-7 ) Whosoever abideth in Him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen Him, neither known Him. Little children, let no man/woman deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.
1 John 5:18-20 We know that no one who is Born of God sins; but He who was Born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.
Romans 8 :12-15 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. or if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
Romans 6 : 1 – 2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
2 Timothy 2:19-21 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, let every one that nameth the Name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.
Romans 6:5-7 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.
John 8:11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
Romans 8: 8 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Romans 8 :12-15 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation—but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it. or if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons/daughters of God.
Romans 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 6:18-20 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
1 John 2:4-6 He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the Love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him. He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.
Ephesians 4:23-24 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Ephesians 4:23-24 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
1 John 4:17-19 Herein is our Love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in Love; but perfect Love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in Love. We Love Him, because He first Loved us.
2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Colossians 3:4-6 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.
Daniel 12:10 Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.
Titus 2:13-15 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all Authority. Let no man despise thee.
2Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in Peace; and the God of Love and Peace shall be with you.
Christian Love in our Unity in Christ Jesus – Anne.