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Monday, January 25, 2010

1/25/10 Matthew 9:1-8 Carriers of the Cot

(Jesus Healing the Paralyzed Man- Bernard Rode 1780 engraving)
1/25/10- Mt. 9:1-8 (pp. Mk 2:1-12; Lk 5:17-26)

1 Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2 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." 3 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!" 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." 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 human beings.

Calvin abridged: “his own town” refers to Capernaum which became his base because of his frequent visits. Luke adds to Matthew that scribes were present to witness the miracle and that Christ healed a number of people ( he uses the plural “them”). This miracle is remarkable in that this man’s limbs were totally useless- lying on a bed, lowered with cords, and suddenly rises with vigor and agility. Another reason this miracle was outstanding was that Christ used this miracle as a visible sign and a seal of his claim that he could forgive sins. 2 “their faith”- God alone gives them faith, but they showed their faith by going through so much trouble because they were confident of the success of their efforts. As Christ granted the healing to the paralytic based on “their faith”, the question arises about how much the faith of some affects others. Abraham’s faith was an advantage to his posterity- as he entered into a covenant with God and his descendants. All believers’ faith, by God’s grace, is an advantage to their children and grandchildren even before they were born. For adult unbelievers the faith of others has an indirect influence for their salvation through prayers. Also earthly blessings are given to unbelievers for the sake of the godly. “your sins are forgiven” seems to promise something different than what the man requested. But the cause of the man’s lack of health needed to be removed. The only way of obtaining deliverance from all evils is to have God reconciled to us. Sometimes the wicked are freed from their distresses while God is still their enemy, yet his chastisement may remain on them (Amos 5:19). From this we should not simply pray for the relief of the symptoms of affliction, but we should also pray for forgiveness and reconciliation to God. Christ proved his divinity and authority to heal the eternal soul as well as heal the temporal body. Matthew says the people were astonished, but Luke adds that they were amazed and fearful. They glorified God “who had given such authority to human beings”- but in this they are partly mistaken. Though they saw a man with their eyes, they should have perceived something higher than a man (1 Tim 3:6).

Thoughts: One of our church members at LMPC, Martha Wheeler, and my now deceased mother started a ministry at the Presbyterian Home for the elderly called “Carriers of the Cot” based on this passage. The people who lived in apartments would visit the people who were in the infirmary- unable to walk and read scripture to them, pray with them, visit them, and make sure they were brought communion (if that was suitable for their condition). In our culture, in which we so value independence, we sometimes forget our friends who are unable to come to worship. The faith of these friends was so amazing that it brought healing to the man- whether he had faith or not (the scriptures do not say). His faith was shown in that he allowed them to carry him, and did not wallow in his misery. Too many do not think of bringing others to Jesus in their pain. But it is their pain that should be the loud alarm clock that wakes them up to their need for the Lord’s help. I think today of those who have gone, inspired by faith, to Haiti to help those in need who cannot get out of rubble or get the basics of life.  They are like the carriers of the cot today.

Prayer: Today, Lord, give me eyes to see those who need to be brought to you physically or spiritually. Help me to be a blessing to someone today who is in need.

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