Daily Reflection – 7/4/19
After entering a boat, Jesus made the crossing and came into his own town. And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” At that, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why do you harbor evil thoughts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 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 stretcher, and go home.” He rose and went home. When the crowds saw this, they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to men. (Matthew 9:1-8)
To understand this gospel we need to be aware of the close links that the people of the time saw between sickness and sin. Sickness, especially a chronic sickness, was often seen as a punishment for sin, either the sin of the person himself or of a parent. We remember, in John’s gospel (chapter 9), how the people asked Jesus if the man was born blind because of his own sin or the sin of his parents. Similarly, after Jesus had healed a man crippled for 38 years, he told him not so sin again, for fear something worse might befall him (John 5:14).
In telling the paralyzed man that his sins were forgiven Jesus was going to the root of his problem. We can probably say that sin in some form or other is at the root of all our problems. Jesus had been challenged for telling the man his sins were forgiven. To prove that he had the power to do this, he cured the man’s paralysis, which, in the minds of the onlookers, was the result of his sin. If there was no more paralysis, which was caused by sin, then the sin had been taken away too.
Nowadays, we do not see something like paralysis or a physical handicap as a punishment from God. We do not believe that God works like that. On the other hand it is likely that many health problems which we have can be linked with a disharmony in our lives arising from a conflict between what we are truly meant to be and what we tend to be. We refer to some sicknesses as ‘dis-eases’. They are the result of harmful stress when we are out of harmony with ourselves, with other people and with our environment. In that sense, we can see a clear link between sin and sickness.
Perhaps if we looked at our own lives we might see that some of our physical and mental ailments are due to a lack of harmony between God and others and our surroundings. Let’s think about that today.
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus, through your merciful love and forgiveness you bring healing and restoration to body, soul, and mind. May your healing power and love touch every area of my life — my innermost thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and memories. Pardon my offences and transform me in the power of your Holy Spirit that I may walk confidently in your truth and righteousness.
Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.
What a dramatic … command. It is a command, a loving order given to someone who is waiting for such a freedom. And aligning with Jesus Christ, placing ourselves under his lordship and command, is indeed a freedom in comparison with the long, unjust expectations of ourselves and the naysaying “scribes” in our lives. At which point, we accept the experience of forgiveness, and move toward “home.”