“People brought to him a man who was paralyzed, lying on a cot. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man who was paralyzed, ‘Be encouraged, my child, your sins are forgiven’ ... ”
Matthew 9:3a CEB
The line was a little longer than usual in the drive-thru on a hot summer morning. People seemed to be taking a lot more time in placing their order. It felt as though the cars were not even able to move at a normal speed. Everyone seemed to be getting impatient. Finally, it was time to place the order. It was a simple order of a large iced tea. After the order was placed there was still a wait to get to the window to pay and pick up the large iced tea. The car in front of me was at the window and seemed to be taking longer than any other car had taken. At last I was at the window—somewhat irritated, impatient, and ready to be on my way—when I received a nice surprise. The person working the window handed me the iced tea and said, “The person in front of you paid for you. Have a nice day.” Wow! Don’t mind if I do! Indeed, that did help me to have a nice day. It was a nice gift and I know I am not the only one for whom this has happened.
Have you ever had this happen? Most refer to it as paying it forward. I have been able to do this many times as well—pay it forward, that is. Someone makes it possible for someone else to receive a blessing. It is often times unexpected but can also be less spontaneous. I believe this is an ancient practice found in the Bible as well. In essence, this is what took place in the Scripture from above. Jesus arrives in a town and some of the people from the town bring a paralyzed man, still on his cot, to him. What happens next is amazing. Jesus doesn’t notice the man right away. He doesn’t move to his need right away. Instead, the Scripture says Jesus saw the faith of the people first. Jesus notices that the people were carrying this man to him with the belief that Jesus could, and would, heal him. What the people were doing for their friend was far more inconvenient than putting a couple extra dollars on their ATM card. They were carrying their friend a good distance in the hope and belief he would blessed. They believed if they could get him there he would be able to walk home with them on his own.
Jesus did not heal him right away. The first thing Jesus says, after noticing the faith of the people, is, “Be encouraged, my child, your sins are forgiven.” Jesus sees the faith of this man’s friends and he forgives the man. The people, presumably the man’s friends, were making it possible for him to receive a blessing. Their motivation was to have him experience a life of health and wholeness. They wanted to see him healed. They had the faith that this could happen through Jesus. Their faith in Jesus results in forgiveness for their friend. Jesus is saying that because of their faith he has made their friend right with God. Spiritual healing preceded physical healing. Forgiveness of his sins made the man whole and healed spiritually. It was only after the legal experts, experts in religious law, claimed that Jesus was insulting God that Jesus healed the man. Jesus forgave his sins because of his friends’ faith. Jesus healed him to prove his authority to the legal experts. Jesus said, “Why do you fill your minds with evil things? Which is easier—to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so you will know that the Human One has authority on the earth to forgive sins’—he said to the man who was paralyzed—Get up, take your cot, and go home.”
Jesus forgives because of faith, heals because of authority, and transforms one man’s life forever.
Where do you need forgiveness? Do you need to be forgiven for something you have done? Do you need someone to forgive you for something you said or did to them? Do you need to forgive yourself? Wherever it is you need forgiveness Jesus stands ready to forgive you. If Jesus will forgive a paralyzed man because of the faith of his friends, imagine how much more he will forgive you when you place your faith in his willingness to forgive you. Ask Jesus to forgive your sins today. Jesus is ready, willing, and able to forgive anything and everything. Will you receive that forgiveness today?
This Sunday we continue our message series for Lent entitled “Miraculous.” We will look at the way Jesus offers miraculous forgiveness. There will also be an opportunity for seeking forgiveness at each service. We can choose to live a miraculous life in Jesus Christ. I hope you will join me this Sunday at 8:15|NINE45|11:15 in worship. You can also go to SAUMC.NET and join us via livestream. The best is yet to come. I love you all and can’t wait to see you in church!