As I was reading through Matthew 9 once again (OK, I have to admit this summer has thrown my plans to blog on one chapter of the gospels each week into a bit of a tail spin - so much for well made plans.) I realized that I have always looked at the following scripture from the point of view of either Jesus or the scribes. But for some reason my thoughts this time were drawn to the point of view of the paralytic man and what he might have been thinking during the following exchange:
“...they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, 'Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.'
And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, 'This Man blasphemes!'
But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, 'Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins'—then He said to the paralytic, 'Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.' And he arose and departed to his house.
Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.” (Matthew 9: 2-8)
These are just some of the questions I found I started asking while reading from this alternative point of view: How did this man become a paralytic? Was he born that way? Did he suffer from some devastating accident? Did an illness or slowly progressing disease cause his condition? And then: What type of life did he live before the transition, if there was a "before"? What thoughts circled through his head, on a daily basis, about why such a fate had befallen him? Was it the sin of his parents that caused him to live this way, day in and day out? (a common thinking pattern of that day and age) Or, was his poor state the result of some sin he himself had committed? Yes, my mind was swimming with all of these questions just because of my change in perspective.
All of these questions then made me start to think that when Jesus said to the paralytic, "Yours sins are forgiven you.", He was more than likely offering this man something even better than physical healing. Could it have been that the thought life of this man tormented him even more than his physical ailments? Having lived through decades of on and off suicidal depression in my past, I could truly relate to the transforming power and healing that real and complete forgiveness affords an individual. Yes, looking from only the outside of this story in Matthew 9, we only consider the external healing needed in this man's life. But Jesus saw beyond what the eyes could see, and He looked into what the heart of this man needed most...the healing of his troubled heart.
As I see it, this story should call us all to consider one ringing question: Have I only asked Jesus to heal the external things in my life instead of the more dire need I have within that needs healing? Often times what troubles us on the outside is just a manifestation of what we have failed to deal with on the inside. Thankfully, Jesus is able to offer healing in both forms, but it is our heart that He truly wants to heal more than anything. Yes, life will always give us curve balls, disappointments, pain, and sorrow - the bible is clear about all of that - but when Jesus finds His way into our hearts, His peace will reside in us and make all those obstacles more than bearable...He will make them so they are filled with purpose and meaning. And having purpose in Jesus, that is a soul freed from all the wearily weights of this world and set on the kingdom beyond this life, is what I need every day to keep going and doing the tasks set before me. What about you? Jesus offers to heal all who come to Him in faith...are you willing to trust in Him to heal the things troubling you today? My prayer is that you will.