Jesus Makes Hearts Walk | Matthew 9.1-8 (Snohomish)
June 22, 2014 Series: Mission of the King | Matthew Part II
Topic: New Testament Passage: Matthew 9:1–9:8
Introduction | Matthew’s Focus
Last week we learned that there are only two responses people have when they meet Jesus Christ. They either beg to go with Him or beg Him to go away. After the healing of a demon-possessed man harms the city’s economic prosperity, the Gentiles on the Eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee beg Jesus to leave them alone. Without a rebuke or a “you’ll be sorry”, Jesus leaves and, with his disciples, crosses back over to his hometown of Capernaum. News of his return spreads quickly and crowds immediately surround the house in which he is staying. Everyone wanted to hear Jesus teach or be touched by His healing hand. There were also teachers had come from every village of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. More than likely they had been sent as scout teams by the Sanhedrin—the Jewish Supreme Court. Experts in the Law of Moses, like lawyers, they wanted to make sure Jesus was not some lawless false prophet starting His own cult. There were so many people no one could get in the house or even near the door.
This same incident can be found in Mark, chapter two. In our text, Matthew states that “some people” bring Jesus a paralytic lying on a bed. According to the record of Mark, there is more to the story. Four men are bringing their paralyzed friend to be healed. Unable to find a way to get to Jesus, they climb atop the house and begin to dig out an opening in the roof. Then, they lower their friend down on the bed before Jesus. Usually, this text becomes a story about the faith of this man’s friends. Without question, these men were committed, creative, and courageous. All the records state that Jesus “saw” their faith. The eagerness to climb over, tear down, or risk whatever you must in order to get into the presence of Jesus is a solid picture of faith. Matthew doesn’t tell us any of that story because he has a different purpose. He doesn’t want us to see the paralytic. He doesn’t want us to see his friends. He wants us to see Jesus. In the chaos of a storm, He wanted us to see Jesus as Lord of Creation. In the darkness of demonic attack, He wanted us to see Jesus as Son of God. And in the healing of a paralyzed man, he wants us to see Jesus as God incarnate—the only one capable of truly healing us.
The need for healing | the enemy to healing | the way of healing
THE NEED FOR HEALING
Some people, perhaps some friends, bring a paralyzed man to Jesus. We don’t know how he became paralyzed or how long he has been paralyzed. We don’t even know if it is his idea to see Jesus. What we do know is that, without the help of his friends, he isn’t going anywhere. What is also clear is that he and his friends recognizes that his paralysis is not “normal”. All of the death, war, disease, and hunger in the world declare something everyone knows, but few will admit—there is something deeply wrong with the created world. You don’t have to be divorced to see our relationships are broken. You don’t have to be homeless to see our communities are broken. You don’t have to be paralyzed to see that our bodies are broken. And though the miracles of Jesus show every dying person, every suffering person, and every hungry person that there is something more powerful than death, disease, and hunger—most will beg Jesus to leave them alone.
I don’t need Jesus, I need a cure! I don’t need Jesus, I need a raise! I don’t need Jesus, I need a nicer spouse! I don’t need Jesus, I need an obedient kid! Not to minimize true paralysis, but our problems can be very paralyzing. We become paralyzed by our problems because when there is no foreseeable end to them, and every solution requires nothing short of a miracle. We find ourselves unable to move, unable to make a decision, unable to experience joy. All we can see is our problem and all of our energy goes to ridding our life of that one problem. And there are all kinds of saviors ready to pull us out of the hell we find ourselves in. . As my good friend Pastor Brian Hope said, “There are a million willing and inferior saviors out there from which we can choose and by which we can be utterly disappointed."
What is your biggest problem right now? What do you see has your biggest obstacle to joy in our life? What is the one thing that would make life wonderful if was removed? What is the one thing that would make life wonderful if it was added? Men usually believe the solution to their problem lies “somewhere out there” because they misunderstand the nature of our problem. This man is coming to Jesus to solve what he sees is his biggest problem—he’s paralyzed. Jesus sees past the surface and gets to the heart.
Jesus didn’t come to simply heal people for leprosy, blindness, paralysis, and other forms of suffering. In comparison to the BIG problem we have, these are little. Before Jesus was born, an angel told his earthly father Joseph that his young virgin wife would: bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. Later, when Jesus was hanging out in Matthew’s house with a brood of tax collectors, some Pharisees asked why He was eating with such a sick group of dirt bags, Jesus responded: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners (9.12-13). Our problem is not that we don’t believe we need a doctor—some sort of help. The problem is that we wrongly try to play doctor and self-diagnose….and we’re always wrong. Our problems are not primarily relational, financial, physical, or social, they are spiritual.
When Jesus sees the faith of the paralytic and his friends, he says, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” When we consider most of our problems, be it a difficult relationship, tremendous debt, or a debilitating disease, few if any of us believe that OUR sin is the problem (Maybe the other person’s sin but not ours). And I’m not trying to suggest that all disease or suffering is the direct result of our sin. What I am saying is that our biggest problem is not disease or suffering, though these kinds of things often bring our BIGGER problem to light. Our relationship with our problems often reveals a problem in our relationship with God. Our big problem is SIN. What is sin?
The most common definition of sin is “disobedience to God’s law”, leading many to believe that our problems are caused merely by our bad choices. While this does describe sin, it is a bit incomplete. Sin is building your life on a foundation other than God. Without question, when we break God’s law we sin. But we only break God’s law because we are building our lives on something other than God. In other words, we are sinning before we sin. We are already making something other than God more important (worshipping) when we lie for example. Namely, we worship the approval of men. We need a better definition. When the doctor tells us that we have GONACYPHAHERPELAIDS, we want to know every possible cause, symptom, and possibility. The Bible uses three different words to describe the problem we have by nature and by choice:
• INIQUITY (Avah) means to be twisted out of shape. We are broken. Like a bone out socket, when we use it we cause great pain and damage. We are also very weak with distorted beliefs about God, self, others. We are enslaved, disobedient, foolish, natural, fleshly, hateful, and deceived.
• SIN (Chatha) means to miss the mark. We fall short of God’s glory, failing to live as God wants in peace with him, others, and the world. We hate when we shouldn’t and we don’t love when we should. We live for our own glory and not God’s own.
• TRANSGRESSION (Pasha) means a willful rebellion against the one to whom we owe allegiance. Though we are broken and deceived, we are still responsible for our actions. Our disobedience is deliberate as well obey our will over his.
For us, sin causes a spiritual paralysis—which effects how we see and move in life.
THE ENEMY TO HEALING
Our unwillingness to confess our sin is the enemy to healing. Now, the Supreme Court Scout team that is listening does not like what they here. They understand what Jesus is saying all too well, it infuriates the law experts who believe Jesus has just committed blasphemy. They believe Jesus has slandered the name of God by claiming the power to do only what God can do—forgive sins. Jesus claims to be God. The legal punishment for blasphemy is stoning. Jesus knows what they are thinking. He can see it all over their faces, though they don’t say a word aloud. More than likely, they are scheming as to how they will be able to carry this out; but it’s only blasphemy if it is not true. This is not the last time that Jews will accuse him of this; some will go so far as to pick up stones.
The Jews believed sin actually called paralysis. To the Jewish mind, sickness was a spiritual thing. Jews connected sin with suffering. When Job suffered, his friends press him hard asking, “What did you do?” When Jesus heals a blind man in John 9, his own disciples ask him “Who sinned, this man or his parents?” Notice the man does not jump up after Jesus forgives His sins. Perhaps they would have reacted differently. Whether that man is physically healed at this point is not clear. He is healed and, yet, he cannot walk. The men accusing Jesus can walk, but they are not healed. These men are not diseased, suffering, or paralyzed; perhaps they assume they are without sin. It’s not that these men don’t need healing; it’s that they don’t think they do. They are blind to the real problem.
This reminds me of another paralyzed man Jesus heals in John 5. John 5. 1-9…14 | After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked…14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” The question might seem silly, but what Jesus is really asking is whether or not this man wants to be forgiven of His sin. People are either too prideful or too ashamed to receive forgiveness. They either don’t believe that they have a problem with sin, or they are too ashamed to admit their addicted to it. They either feel priceless or worthless. Jesus came to do more than just free our bodies to walk; he came to free our hearts to walk. Jesus came to free us from the pride that says – I have it all together; and he frees us from the shame too afraid to admit you don’t. As Tim Keller wrote: “ The irony of the gospel is that the only way to be worthy of it is to admit you're completely unworthy of it.”
THE WAY OF HEALING [THE CROSS]
But how does Jesus free our hearts exactly? Jesus heals us through faith that He has forgiven us on the cross. He responds to the silent accusations of these scribes by telling them: 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” Knowing their beliefs about sickness, He tells them that it is easier to tell a man to rise and walk. But so that they know Jesus came to deal with the root cause of the brokenness, Jesus does what is impossible for a man to do. And because the paralyzed man DOES rise up and walk when Jesus says to, Jesus not only reveals His authority, but also who the real blasphemers in the house are. The point of the passage has nothing to do with the faith men lowering their friend through a roof so Jesus can fix His broken body. Rather, it has to everything to do with faith in Jesus to fix a broken heart—even if he never fixes a broken body.
Every problem we have is a result of a broken heart that is prone to wander. We want to finger point and blame our current entrenchment on something outside of ourselves, the problem is internal. Your sin may not have created the problem, but your sin is keeping it one. Jesus solves heals our heart problem—the root of all of our problems—through dying on the cross for our sins. It's not that Jesus is the only one willing to help us; He is just the only one qualified to...at least in the way we truly need.
• Only Jesus can forgive because he is the Son of Man. The Son of Man is the title of prophetic King in the book of Daniel, the lawgiver. The only one with the authority to forgive is the one who is been sinned against.
• Only Jesus has can forgive because He is the Son of God. A man’s blood isn’t clean enough to cover one sin, let alone the sins of the world. Jesus is sinless. And His blood is not just any blood. It is God’s blood. It is of infinite weight, meaning, it has the power to cover any sin for anyone.
• Only Jesus can forgive because he is the Son of Mary. He is not only fully God, He is fully man. He has a life that can perfectly represent me. So, nailed to a cross, unable to move like a paralyzed man, Jesus will say “34 Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Then, three days later, He will rise from the dead and walk out of His tomb.
Until you see that the one whom you need forgiveness is the one who pays the price of forgiveness—you will die in your sins. One day Jesus will return to restore our physical bodies; but he has already come to restore our hearts. There is nothing to achieve, only confess and receive. How do I know if I am living in Christ’s forgiveness? Soren Kierkegaard once wrote: “A person rests in the forgiveness of sins when our thoughts of God do not remind us of one’s sins, but rather of the fact they have been forgiven. So what has happened in the past is now not a remembrance of how badly one did, but how much one was forgiven.”
When you think of your faith, where does your mind naturally go? If it goes to what you have done, what you are doing, or what you might do, then it is the wrong place. You are focused on a minor problem. You need to recognize that the BIG problem has been taken care of by what Jesus has done for you. You really only have one real problem, and Jesus has solved it for you. Live free.
More in Mission of the King | Matthew Part II
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