Written by Rhonda Neal
Scripture to Read: Matthew 9:1-8
Chapter 9 of Matthew begins with Jesus’ return from the east side of the Sea of Galilee where “the whole city” asked him to leave. Jesus had cast demons out of two men and allowed them to enter a distant herd of swine who in turn stampeded into the sea and drowned. The return to Capernaum yielded a more positive response. Jesus’ time in Capernaum, located in the region of Galilee, was sufficient for Matthew to refer to it as Jesus “own city.”
Reports of miraculous healings and wonderous teachings had piqued the interest of many from even beyond Galilee. On this occasion Jesus was teaching to a full house. In fact, it seems there was overflow spreading to the exterior area of the house. People were shoulder to shoulder. Present was a cluster of Jewish leaders whose presence could not be missed. They were recognized as educated men, well versed in the Law. Their responsibilities to legislate and judge afforded great power. The style of dress and unapproachable, superior demeanor was unmistakable. Jesus’ popularity challenged the status quo. He warranted close monitoring until they could safely orchestrate his demise.
Disturbance, to some extent, is characteristic of crowds. On this occasion some friends were determined their paralytic friend would see Jesus for healing. The ordeals of attempting to elbow their way through the crowd to get to Jesus (not successful), raising the man’s pallet to the roof, clearing the roofing layers to access the area of the house above where Jesus was teaching, and lowering his pallet before Jesus, had to present distraction. Their faith apparent, Jesus responded, “Take courage, My Son, your sins are forgiven.” The disturbance level jumped exponentially.
Jewish popular thought dictated one could not receive healing until sins were forgiven. Only GOD could forgive sins. Jesus’ pronouncement of forgiveness sparked a fury of discussion among the Jewish leaders present. Jesus knew their words and intent. “Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?” To prove the Son of Man had authority on earth to forgive sins Jesus turned to the paralytic and said, “Rise, take up your bed, and go home.”
How is such a miracle to be minimized? How may wonder and crowd control be peppered with suspicion and doubt? A paralyzed man got up, was obviously strong enough to pick up his bed, and walked home (although he may have been walking and leaping and praising God.) Matthew writes the multitudes glorified God.
This is the first recorded organized opposition to Jesus in Galilee. Controversy did not discolor, diminish or destroy the authority of the Son of Man. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. We know power in His name. God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love and discipline. Let no one and nothing dissuade you from enjoying His presence and power today.