Today, I sit and listen to Jesus’s teaching by reading and meditating on Matthew 9:1–8 and its parallel passages Luke 5:17–26 and Mark 2:1–12. I follow the example of the crowd that pressed in upon Jesus to hear him speak and to witness his demonstrations of power by healing many sick people.
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.”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 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.” Then 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 man.Matthew 9:2–8 NIV
Jesus’s power was from the Lord—God, Creator, King, Jehovah. It attracted people from all over the nation. His power included authority over disease. Is that power still operative today? Does Jesus still have power to heal? From what sickness do I need to be healed? Which of my loved ones needs healing today?
What amazing friends these men were. The other gospel writers describe the crowd that blocked the doorway to Jesus and the ingenious plan to lower the man down into the room from the roof. How far did they have to carry their friend to the home where Jesus was? What was their first reaction when they could not get to Jesus because of the crowd around him? Who came up with the idea to go up on the roof?
These friends were not going to let a little resistance stop them. They kept at it until they had brought their friend to Jesus. This is the role of a true friend—to bring their sick and needy loved ones to Jesus. Of course this can take many forms, but today, I’m interceding in prayer. How does a woman do this for her husband? Can she bring him to Jesus for healing? As an ezer kenegdo, a strong helper, she can bring him to Jesus for healing.
Jesus noticed their faith. Was this inclusive, meaning the paralyzed man had faith too? But it seems that the faith of the friends was effective for him too. My faith—in who Jesus is—is seen by the Lord.
The first thing Jesus did was forgive his sins. Jesus got to the priority first—heart condition, eternal state, spiritual healing. Which of course if they scoffers had understood, they would have realized that—duh—that means he’s God.
What evil thoughts or objections am I raising? It takes too long. Why doesn’t God just take away the struggle? Why is the battle so hard? Why not just heal miraculously, in an instant?
What is easier? To forgive sins or heal physically? Jesus is actually doing the harder thing by taking the long, slow road to healing. He’s proving he’s God. He’s giving my friends and loved ones increased faith and power to fight. He’s transforming them into the persons he has designed them to be.
What remarkable things have I seen? Progress, perseverance, faith, love, intimacy.
While the teachers of the law failed to get the point due to their fear of losing power, the crowd got it. And they reacted appropriately—filled with awe, they praised God. I join them in praising God for incremental progress, for answered prayer, for the displays of his power already seen. May I realize that spiritual healing is far better than merely physical healing.
Lord, give me more faith, for you say that faith the size of a mustard seed is sufficient. Lord Jesus, please continue to heal my friends and loved ones spiritually. Touch their souls, give them faith, teach them what it means that you love them and died for them, that your death was sufficient, so they do not have to be a slave to sin, addiction, fear, anxiety, greed, pride. Please keep doing your work of healing. And I will keep bringing my friends and loved ones to you. I will exercise faith on their behalf and try to strengthen and encourage them (Acts 15:32).