Matthew 9: 1-8
Step 1: I am powerless to fight this problem that I face on my own. I admit my need for help and Jesus Christ is the One, the only one who can fully heal and restore me.
Sin is the ultimate cause of spiritual paralysis. No worse infection or illness or addiction or dependency can confine us. It will control all aspects of our life and eternity to come, unless we are redeemed from it. Sin causes us to get into the issues we face in recovery and healing. We have to acknowledge our sin and give it to Jesus for healing. We are powerless in our sin and issues and we are powerful when we confess that sin or addiction to our Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot overcome any addiction or dependency unless we realize and then confess our sin and hand over our lives to Him who will enable us to recover!
This passage continues the theme in Matthew of how Jesus repeatedly goes out of His way to minister to us who are sinners! He seeks us out who are unworthy to receive Him, and then He forgives and heals us. Why does Jesus do this for us? Perhaps because we are sick and paralyzed, needing forgiveness and recovery. We have no way to get off our "mat" without His help! We may not be confined to a bed or have our only mobility be a wheelchair, or we may think we can effectively deal with our drinking or substance of addiction; we may not think it is a problem. Nevertheless, we are still paralyzed by sin, and in need of His forgiveness.
- Came to his own town. Jesus went home. Capernaum is at the northern end of the Sea of Galilee. Recent archeological evidence indicates it was not a small town, as many believed. Rather, it was a considerably large town, perhaps even a city in Jesus' time.
- Saw their faith. Jesus also singled out the faith of the ones who brought the paralyzed man. These four men modeled Faith, not only in what Jesus could do, but also the determination to get their friend to Him. This sick man must have done something to earn him the favor of having such passionate friends. Remember, these were friends, not relatives!
- Take heart, son/be of good cheer. These are words of incredible comfort. Jesus sought to redirect the focus from the suffering to what is really important, that is, eternity.
- Lying on a mat. This refers to his regular bed, not a cot, or some kind of gurney. They literally grabbed his bed, with him on it, and went to seek Jesus (Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:18-26). This house was centrally located to the roads, and had easy access to the entire Galilean region. Perhaps it was Jesus' own family home, or even Peter's house (Mark 1:29). This house was Jesus' base of operations during his ministry in Galilee (Mark 2:1; 9:33).
- Teachers of the Law. This refers to the Scribes and Pharisees whose job centered on interpreting the Law. Josephus, a first century historian, recorded that there were more than 6,000 Pharisees. Also, according to him as a Jew, many were good and godly, but they overemphasized outward appearances. Jesus did not play their game of pretentiousness (looking good with their decorative garments and long public prayers, then going out, lying, and cheating widows and orphans), and they hated Him for it. Hypocrites hate honest men with fervor!
They were filled with awe. The effect on the people was amazement and wonder. They praised God, the ultimate reaction and response we are to make (Matt. 17:6; 28:5,10). They may have praised Him because they thought people were given such authority. For us, as Christians, our primary purpose, outside of receiving Christ, is to glorify God in all that we do! It was Christ's inherent authority that amazed people, as regular teachers just quoted one another with no authority attached. Jesus did not quote human authorities, as did the teachers of the Law, because His authority was directly from God. Because of this, the religious authorities were there to investigate Jesus. Who is this guy? Why is He doing this? and, is He a threat? they wondered. However, their quest was not to seek truth, but rather feed their critical and hostile mindsets with more judgmental attitudes. The result was their quick accusations that He was a fake.
Christ seeks you and your hurt; He wants you well and recovered! But you have to take His hand just as a drowning person needs to take the hand of the lifeguard to rescue him or her. Look to Christ; allow His intervention and rescue in your life!
1. What is it you are struggling with? How can Christ help you?
2. How often do you use or abuse what you are struggling with? What goes through your mind in doing so? What can you do to focus on Christ?
3. Why did you get into the predicament you are in, whether it is alcohol, drugs, sex, codependency, a bad habit or…?
4. Why did you continue in it?
5. What have you lost because of this predicament?
6. Do you want recovery? If so, why? If not, why?
7. What have you done to try to control this problem? Did it work? If so, how? If not, why?
8. Do you realize that your life is unmanageable without Christ working in you? If not, what will it take for you to hand your life and sin to Him?
9. Jesus seeks us, who are unworthy, to receive Him, and then He forgives and heals us. Why does Jesus do this for us?
10. What kind of faith and determination would Jesus see in you?
11. This sick man must have done something to earn him the favor of such passionate friends. What could be some of the possibilities?
12. If Jesus said, take heart, to you, to what would He be referring? What do you need to do to take in the reality of these precious words of Jesus?
13. What is your mat? In other words, what holds you back? Or, wherein lies your identification? Or, what is the chief motivation in your life that drives you?
14. What did Jesus do for you to get you off your mat? Do you think you are still on your mat? If so, why?
15. Do you think you would have more passion if your attitude of the urgency of humanity's condition struck you more deeply?
16. Why do you think the religious leadership saw Jesus as a fake?
17. What do you think the factors are that cause Christians to overemphasize outward appearances?
18. What are the themes in this passage that make pronouncements of Jesus' divinity?
19. Jesus challenged the leaders to reconsider their mindset and judgment. Does He have to do this to you? If so, what? What will you do about it?
20. Jesus' earthly mission, besides redemption, was, and still is, to redirect our focus from our sufferings and experiences, which are temporary, to what is really important, eternity (The Kingdom of God). What needs to take place to give you the mindset that looks to eternity while your feet remain on this earth? By that, we mean to be and to learn all you can while you are here, so nothing is wasted, while at the same time, keeping your focus and hope on Christ and what is still to come.
Read and reflect on these passages for the next week and beyond-why we need to place our trust in Christ: 2 Cor. 12:9-10; Eph. 3:14-21; Heb. 11:32-34
© 1990, 2003, 2008, Dr. Richard J. Krejcir, Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org