GROWTH AND SUCCESS IN LIFE – Lessons Learned at the Feet of Jesus
Following both instructions as to great faith (the centurion ‘in whom [Jesus] had not found anyone in Israel with such great faith’) and the sacrificial demands of discipleship (‘follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead’), Jesus resumes his ministry of healing and miracles from the household of Peter with three encounters, demonstrating his authority and message: the calming of the storm, the healing of two demon-possessed men, and the healing of a paralytic.
Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 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 9:1-8.
1. Jesus’ Purpose of Public Demonstrations of Miracles. First to the disciples, in calming the storm, and then with other miracles and healings, Jesus is providing objective evidence of who He is. To the crowds, Jesus ability to calm the storm with a command, to casting demons out of two men, into a herd of pigs, and to healing a man of paralysis, all show Jesus to be other than merely a man. To the disciples – ‘what kind of man is this?’; to the town of the demon possessed men – they pleaded with him to leave their region; and to the charlatan religious leaders watching the paralytic walk – ‘this fellow is blastpheming’. One thing is certain, no more fence sitting as to who Jesus is. His observers and disciples were with him or against him. 2. The Place of Faith in the Life of a Disciple. Jesus tied his work and ministry to his message of the necessity of faith. To the disciples – ‘you of little faith, why are you afraid’; to the religious leaders – ‘why do you entertain evil thoughts in your heart?’; – to the healed paralytic – ‘take heart, your sins are forgiven’. The message of Jesus was much larger than physical demonstrations of supernatural abilities. It was to prepare both for the message of Jesus as the Messiah, and the necessity of his disciples in following Him by faith.
3. The Message of Miracles – The Authenticity and Authority of Jesus. Looking back at the sermon on the mount, at its conclusion, we learned, Matthew 7:28-2928When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law. To his religious critics, who were aghast that he claimed to be able to forgive sins, we see, 4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6 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.” For Jesus, the message was ultimately a spiritual; healing, not merely a physical restoration.
Isaiah and Jesus together proclaimed: He took up our infirmities, and carried our diseases. To the crowd who observed these miracles: 7 Then the man got up and went home. 8 When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.
We are all grateful for health, especially during these crazy times of national shut downs. We all consider life and its duration to be a gift. But health and length of life is not Jesus’ end game message. It is using days and life circumstances we have to life in a way that honors Him, that exhibits spiritual faith, and that trusts God for our circumstances and our future. Best to you this week. Next week – the selection and lessons of the disciples.
— John Moore