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Monday, June 20, 2016

Today’s Reading | Matthew 9:1–8  

And after getting into a boat he crossed the sea and came to his own town. And just then some people were carrying a paralyzed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Then some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“stand up, take your bed and go to your home.” And he stood up and went to his home. When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings. (NRSV)

It is with the best of intentions that when we see a problem, we often try to fix it with our own understanding and our own solutions. We think we know better. Without necessarily understanding the whole story or the perspective of those seeking help, we jump in with what appears to us a quick, easy, direct fix, whether or not it’s what the person in need really desires. Indeed, our own deepest and most painful problems are seldom easily perceived at first glance.

The friends of the man in today’s reading earnestly sought to help him as best they knew how. Having heard stories of miraculous healings performed by Jesus, they carried their paralyzed friend to him as soon as he arrived in town. Jesus, seeing their love for their friend and his deep need, encourages him and tells him he is forgiven for any wrong done. I imagine the companions thinking, “Really, Jesus? That’s what you think we brought him here for? Can’t you see he can’t walk!” The religious leaders were also unimpressed and outraged by a spiritual healing rather than a physical one, and so Jesus uses the opportunity to proclaim his power over both inner and outward pain. As the man walks, all there glorify God for both healings, giving Jesus’ ministry greater influence than a mere physical solution would have done.

I also wonder how the man reacted inwardly. Certainly he was excited to walk again, but perhaps an even greater relief came at the first healing. His heart was made whole so he could fully rejoice in a restored body. Where do we most need restoration today?

All-Understanding God, thank you for reaching to the heart of every need, whether or not it is obvious to anyone else. Help me to see as you see; heal my own hidden scars as I seek to help others. Amen.

Written by Sarah van der Ploeg, Member of the Morning Choir

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