Up From Your Mat
Matthew 9: 1-8
We are powerless in our sin or any dependency or addiction we face, yet we are powerful when we confess that sin to our Lord Jesus Christ!
The second aspect of this passage is the reaction of the religious custodians of the people, and the people themselves. The leadership saw Jesus as a fake. Perhaps they feared His righteousness because they had none, or maybe it was His abilities and compassion, of which they also had none. The people were attracted to Him by His fame and His demonstrations of wonder from which they sought either a show or a chance to be healed themselves. The question we need to ask ourselves is, what is it about Jesus that attracts us? Is it the show, the healing, or do we have the determination and faith to make Him our Lord so He can get us up from our mat?
Your sins are forgiven. This gives us the picture of our Lord as Redeemer and Deliver. Only the person who was offended has the prerogative and right to offer forgiveness. You cannot forgive an offence that was not done to you. Jesus, as a mere man, could have no right to forgive sins because He would not have been offended by this man's original sin or the deeds and transgressions he had done. The Messiah, in first century Jewish theology, could not forgive sins. So, there was a lot of confusion about who this guy was. By forgiving this man, Jesus claimed His full Godhood (Ex. 34:7; Isa. 1:18; 43:25)!
Sin is our root problem, our greatest pursuit and our felt need. Our real need is the cleansing of our hearts (Isa. 51:21). We do not know if sin did cause this man's paralysis, but sin can and does cause physical problems and even death (John 5:14; 1 Cor. 11:29-30). This man did not come to have his sins forgiven; he and his friends sought physical healing. We, too, get so caught up in what we think we need that we miss what we really need. God is more concerned about our maturity and character than anything else. Sin is our greatest illness! Even if we are never physically healed, our predicament is temporary; the real need is the forgiveness of our soul. By forgiving this man's sins, Jesus was testifying to His deity. He proved His deity by also healing him.
Which is easier. To the scribes, forgiving was much harder than healing. Both are equally impossible for us and equally easy to God. The scribes were right in a way; because, in medical science miracles are not possible. God is the one who gives physicians the knowledge and tools to do medical procedures and He is also the One who heals. In reality, real healings are impossible without God. They knew only God could perform such an act of forgiveness, so Jesus was, as C.S. Lewis stated, a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. They would have been correct in their accusation of blasphemy if Jesus was a mere man but, His demonstration of power over sickness would put this to rest (John 5:36; 10:25, 38). Only God could forgive sins and perform this healing.
Blaspheming was pronouncing one's self as divine, inviting others to worship other gods, or it could be an insult to God's honor (Num. 15:30). The penalty for such an act of forgiving sins was death (Lev. 24:10-23). Jesus obviously was not guilty of this or any offence. This was also a challenge to the leaders to reconsider their mindset and judgment. Even faced with a miracle, they refused to embrace His Lordship (Psalm 41:1; Jer. 3:22; Hosea 14:4) because it would have sacrificed their presumptions and authority, as well as their power and influence. Healing, to the Jewish mindset, was something that also only came from God.
Take heart and hear the words of good cheer! These are words of incredible comfort, as they display our Lord's power over our sin and any problem we may have. Christ will help us through the healing processes! It can be smoking, codependency, substance abuse, or any addiction or struggle we have by our weakness and whatever stresses we face. In Him, we can prevail and overcome and even recover! His mission is to redirect our focus from the suffering we experience, which is temporary, to what is really important, eternity. Do not let the paralysis of sin condemn you to a bed of misery and hopelessness. Do not rely on your abilities to walk when our Lord can give you the Word. We respond with faith and the determination to be His in all that we do. He can, and will, remove our distress with a word. So be of good cheer, get up from your mat and take hold of what our Lord has for you.