Wednesday 12 May 2010

healing: spiritual and/or physical?

12 May 2010

Matthew 9:2 “… Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.’”

The friends and/or family of the paralytic had strong faith in Jesus – faith in His ability to heal physically. But being God’s Son – God incarnate, God with us! – Jesus wanted them to provide the true, eternal healing without which all other healing is only temporary and is ultimately meaningless as it ends in death anyway.

Jesus wanted to provide eternal healing, forgiving sin and restoring broken relationship with their God and Creator. He wanted them to know Him for Who He really is, and to come to Him for all He longs to provide for His lost, sin-bound children.

And then (v7) Jesus provided the physical healing as well. The scribes refused (vv 3-6) to accept the authority (capital-A Authority, vested in God alone) claimed by this up-start, uneducated, Galilean carpenter of rumored ill-met beginnings.

But the crowds – and surely the no-longer-sin-laden and no-longer-paralytic recipient of Jesus’ healing, and those who brought Him to Jesus – “were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men. (v8)” They still didn’t truly understand all of Who Jesus is – but they had no doubt that He was sent by God.

And who knows? Perhaps the two diseased conditions, the sin and the paralysis, really were bound together, inter-woven. For sin provides the ultimate paralysis in our lives, binding up all that is good, and dragging us constantly toward destruction and death.

Much illness in our bodies, minds, and spirits is, as doctors tell us, “psycho-somatic.” And surely, at the core of our damaged psyches lies sin, “crouching at the door; and its desire is for you” (Gen 4:7), leading us into all manner of pain, illness, destructiveness. And death. (See also Matthew 9:32-33). Only the forgiveness Jesus brings us can rescue us and restore the eternal life with our Heavenly Father for which we were created.

All human effort to “master sin” (Genesis 4:8) fails. Only God, by His own sacrifice – Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection victory over death – could conquer sin, and the other diseases it brings.

In verses 18-19 and 25-26 of Matthew 9, we read of the girl who Jesus brings back to life. Everyone is mourning because she is dead, and they scoff when Jesus tells them she is only asleep. And yet, He was right. Physical death is only temporary. After that is eternal life with our Heavenly Father – or without Him (and instead with all the forces of evil and those who reject God).

In verses 27-31 we read of the two blind men who received back their sight “according to their faith.” Jesus told them not to tell anyone – but they couldn’t help themselves! They told everyone about what Jesus had done for them. How could they not? Every single thing they saw with their newly healed eyes was an amazing reminded to them. They were seeing the world in a totally new way, with wonder and awe. And is this not also true of us when we are forgiven by Jesus? We too, see all things through new eyes, and are full of wonder and awe, too. Even greater than the wonder of those two newly-sighted-formerly-blind-men. And how can we resist telling others?

(And yet we so often close our newly opened eyes, or at least cover them up with dark sunglasses that keep out the glorious brightness of God-with-us!).

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