The Book of Matthew

Jesus and the Paralyzed Man, Part 5

Matthew 9:1-8 This week’s lessons provide us with the first example in Matthew’s Gospel of opposition to Jesus, and the contrasting need to repent of our sin and come to Christ for forgiveness.
Our Need for Forgiveness

But I see something else in the story, and it’s this. It’s buried there just in a little sentence that Jesus says to the religious leaders. These teachers were not paralyzed, at least so far as one could see. They were the leaders; everybody looked up to them. But when Jesus knew their thoughts and spoke to them what is it that he said? He said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?” Their objection to Jesus is that he assumed the power to forgive sin, which they knew belonged to God alone. They failed to see what Jesus was claiming about himself. They also concluded that the proof that this man was a sinner was because he was suffering, and since they were not suffering they did not regard themselves as sinners.

Now you may be in that category. You may be doing quite well. You may look at your brother or your sister and you say, “Oh, yes, there’s somebody that has really been handicapped because of what they’ve done. I can understand how that weighs upon them. They just can’t break out of it. I certainly wish I could help them, but I can’t. Thankfully I’m not like them. Things are going well. I’m successful. Everything must be all right in my life.”

However, what Jesus would say to you is that you are evil also. You need forgiveness, and perhaps you need it most. You say, “But I’m not paralyzed.” No, you’re not paralyzed; what you are is blind because you don’t really see your heart. The paralyzed man needed healing, but the blind need healing as well. And what you need is the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive your sin in order that you might see yourself properly.

But at this point I want to give you some encouragement. You say, “Will Jesus really forgive me for my sin?” Notice how he talked to that poor paralyzed man. I like the way he begins. That man was lowered down through the roof, lying there in front of everybody. You have to think that he is wondering what in the world was going to happen. Would Jesus take mercy upon him? Maybe Jesus would say to him, “Get that man out of here. You’re interrupting my lecture.” Jesus didn’t do anything of the sort. He looked at that man and he said, “Take heart, son.” Take heart. Don’t be downcast. Be encouraged. I’m about to do something good in your life.

Doesn’t Jesus still say that? You may be paralyzed by your sin. You may be blind to your sin. Wouldn’t Jesus say to you in a situation just like this, “Take heart, son. Take heart, daughter. Don’t be discouraged. I’m about to do something good for you. And what I’m about to do is forgive your sin”? And if somebody is standing by and said, “Who is that that can forgive sin? Only God can forgive sin,” Jesus would say, “That’s right. That’s who I am, and that’s what I’m going to do.” It takes God to forgive sin, and that is what we have in Jesus Christ. I hope you’ll come. It says in the Bible, “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoking flax he will not quench.” You may feel bruised. You may feel that your light for life has almost gone out. Jesus does not blow it out; Jesus kindles it, and causes it to flame once again.

I have one last point, and it’s a simple one. You may say, “I’ve already come to Jesus. I’ve already experienced that.” In that case let me commend to you the example of the four men who brought their friend. You see, if it weren’t for those four men none of this would have happened. You say, “Well, that paralyzed man must have had faith.” Yes, but he couldn’t get to Jesus. Jesus was in that crowd there in the house, and the man was paralyzed. I suppose even if he could walk he could hardly have gotten to him, but certainly he couldn’t get there in his paralyzed state. But he did have four friends, and the four friends loved him and they cared for him. And they said if he can’t get to Jesus, we’ll get him there ourselves.

I wonder if you care about your friends like that. You know which of your friends need forgiveness. Now how are they going to find Jesus unless you bring them? You know it says in the Bible that the way faith is passed on is from faith. The expression it uses is “from faith to faith.” That is, the faith of one praying for and leading another so that by God’s grace through that concern faith is also born in the one who follows. You say, “I can’t do that. I can’t change their heart.” That is true. You can’t. But you can bring them to Jesus, and he will do it. And that’s a challenge I leave with you. If we would meet Jesus we will be changed, and those who we bring will be changed als

Study Questions
  1. What causes even Christians to be blind concerning their own sins?
  2. What makes us so quick to notice sins in others, but so unobservant when it comes to our own lives?
  3. In our own way, how do Christians perhaps “think evil” by how we approach God with needs we have?
  4. What views do we express, either about God, ourselves, or others that are contrary to Scripture?

Application: Do you have friends who need you to bring them to Jesus?  How will you show them the kind of love that the paralytic’s friends had for him?

For Further Study: The scribes were not only wrong, but sinful, in their opposition to Jesus.  The Apostle Paul knew what it was like to be rejected and mistreated because of his commitment to Christ.  Download and listen for free to James Boice’s message from 1 Corinthians 4, “Fools for Christ’s Sake.”  (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

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