The Scriptorium

Depth Healing

Jesus heals not just sin's effects, but sin. Matthew 9.1-8

Matthew 9: Enlarging the Harvest (1)

Pray Psalm 103.1-6.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The LORD executes righteousness
And justice for all who are oppressed.

Sing Psalm 103.1-6.
(Old 100th: All People That on Earth Do Dwell)
O my soul, bless the Lord’s great Name! His many benefits proclaim:
He pardons sins and heals disease, and from the pit grants us release.

With mercy rich and steadfast love He satisfies us from above,
Revives our youth, works righteousness, and justice serves for the oppressed.

Read and meditate on Matthew 9.1-8.

Prepare.
1. With what did Jesus connect the healing of this man?

2. What do we learn from this about the power Jesus wields?

Meditate.
Jesus continues His work of overturning the effects of sin by healing a man brought to Him, paralyzed on a bed. He responded to the faith of the man’s friends in this matter (v. 2), which should encourage us about the power of asking, seeking, and knocking in intercessory prayer for others.

At first, Jesus did not heal this man physically. This was deliberate. He encouraged the man to “be of good cheer” because He had forgiven his sins. Forgiveness of sins and thus right of entry before God is of infinitely more value than relieving bodily discomforts. Do we rejoice in this as much as we should?

Naturally, the scribes began to grumble (v. 3), and they would have been right in their objection if Jesus had been only a man. But He was not, of course. He was the Son of Man (v. 6) and had been given power from God to forgive sins, for He Himself was God. Notice that Jesus saw into the inner thoughts of these men (v. 4). He knows what’s in every one of us. To demonstrate His power to forgive sins, Jesus healed the paralytic and instructed him to get up from his bed and go home. Which he did.

Jesus’ power over all the effects of sin demonstrates His power over sin itself. He doesn’t just heal at a superficial level, but to the depths of the soul. Jesus ran roughshod over sin throughout the course of His ministry, finally defeating sin and its most dire consequence – death – in His own death and subsequent resurrection. He wanted people to understand that the power of the Kingdom He was bringing near to them was power to overcome sin in all its expressions and forms. He wielded that power, and He taught us to seek it by seeking the Kingdom and righteousness of God. That power works first in us to defeat the power of sin, then through us to drive sin out of our world and bring the goodness of God to light in the land of the living (1 Jn. 2.8; Ps. 27.13).

And we see the full effects of Jesus’ works: People glorified God Who “had given such power to men” (v. 8). We have received this power indeed, in the Person of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1.8). Jesus bore witness to the power of the Kingdom in true words and good works, bringing good cheer and forgiveness wherever He went. We who follow Him must take up this agenda as well.

Reflect.
1. Why is forgiveness of sins more a source of joy than healing from sickness?

2. What do we learn about the nature of the Kingdom of God from this incident?

3. To what should our good works ultimately lead (v. 8)?

It is easier said than done. Whether the sins of the paralytic were forgiven, only he who forgave them knew for sure. “Arise and walk”: both he who arose and those who saw him arise were able to vouch for this. Hence there is a bodily sign in order to demonstrate a spiritual sign, though its impact is to curb the imperfections of body and soul.
Jerome (347-420), Commentary on Matthew 1.9.5

Thank You, Lord, for forgiving my sins! Send me into the world today to…

Pray Psalm 103.15-22.
Commit this day to the Lord and His Kingdom. Ask Him to show you mercy, and to enable you to show mercy; to walk according to His Law; and to keep Him and His heavenly realm always before your mind.

Sing Psalm 103.15-22.
Psalm 103.15-22 (Old 100th: All People That on Earth Do Dwell)
Now as for us like grass we fail, though for a time our flesh prevail.
God’s Spirit blows across our face and withers sinners in their place.

But evermore to those who fear the Lord brings loving kindness near;
His righteousness to them extends and to their children without end.

He rules upon His throne in heav’n; His sovereign rule o’er all is giv’n.
You angels, bless the Lord, rejoice, who live in strength to heed His voice.

All you who serve Him, bless the Lord, all you who heed His righteous Word!
Let all throughout the cosmos whole unite to praise Him, with my soul!

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

 

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore