Strangers: The Paralytic and Matthew
Today with the passage elder read in Mark 2:1-17, I would like to continue the series “The Strangers”. We are the strangers. We are going to look at the Paralytic and Matthew.
Jesus’ purpose in coming to this world was to meet with us. That is why it is worth our effort to go a far distance to meet Jesus, because Jesus came all the way from heaven to earth to meet with us. Sometimes Jesus’ purpose in meeting us on this earth, does not match with the people’s expectation of the Messiah. We have learnt that the focus of the entire bible, the purpose of God is redemption and salvation. It is only through redemption work that we can go into the kingdom of heaven. The essence of salvation is salvation from sin and death. But it is very easy for us to mistake the purpose of salvation is to benefit our daily life. That is why Jesus faced conflicts with religious leaders and people of His time, because they were seeking for immediate solutions to their problems and considered that as salvation.
1. Background of the passage
Today’s story is written in Matthew 9, right before Matthew 9 is the casting out of demons from a man so they would go into a herd of swine. This is an event that took place right after the swine incidence, where Jesus cast out demons from a man and the demons went into the pigs who then all jumped into the sea and drowned. Now Jesus crossed over the sea and went home to Capernaum. The people gathered to listen to His teachings. Jesus was very calm that the roof was being taken apart to let down a bed. During that time the houses were made with clay or dirt or rocks, but the roof was made of straw as it didn’t rain so much in that area. It was not big rocks falling from the roof.
A pallet came down with a man of it. Jesus saw it and said “Take courage” as if He was encouraging this. Then He said “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Jesus’ purpose is to forgive sins wherever He goes. Any chance He has, He is forgiving sins. You and I may not have paralysis, but each and everyone of us have some kind of problem in our life, our bodies, sickness or other problems. All our problems start to arise after sin came in. We often come to church and come to Jesus asking for solutions to that problem, just like this paralytic that came down. But instead of solving that problem, healing the paralysis, Jesus says “Your sins are forgiven.” We come to God to solve our personal problems, without realising God’s main purpose is to take away our sins. Jesus is showing us to have our sins forgiven first, only afterwards will our problems be solved.
2. The problem of the religious leaders
Jesus revealed in Matthew 23:25-26.
Matthew 23:25-26 (ESV) “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
Religious leaders used the Word of God to judge whether other people are righteous or not. Jesus called them hypocrites. Hypocrisy is when the outward and inward are not the same. Unless we are cleansed from the inside, Jesus is saying we should clean from the inside. The church will have problems if there are more and more hypocrites becoming pastors, leaders in the church. Even though they think they are in leadership and righteous, the possibility of their salvation is becoming less and less, we have to be careful not to become blinds leading other blinds. Life of faith is about making the inside clean. Meeting Jesus is for the purpose of cleansing ourselves inside and out. The friends of the paralytic today shows us such faith. The hypocritics would never tear up the roof because they care of the aesthetics of the outside, their pride and their face. These friends did not think about the repair of the roof, but only about getting the guy to meet with Jesus. May our #1 purpose be to meet Jesus no matter what.
If there is anything blocking my path to Jesus, no matter what it is, we need to learn to rip it apart or open it up. It was the roof blocking them, they unblocked it. They just wanted to get to Jesus no matter how. Do we have that hunger and desperation to meet our Father God today?
In application to our life, there are things standing between me and Jesus, we ask, what is the collateral and consequences and loss to meet Jesus? We give up thinking it is too costly.
I pray we may have the faith to rip off whatever is blocking us to meet Jesus.
3. What is Jesus’ response to meet the religious leaders?
They were about to accuse Jesus of blasphemy.
Mark 2:9-10 (ESV) Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–he said to the paralytic–
Which is easier to say? Your sins are forgiven you? Take up your bed and walk?
Jesus is asking which is the greater problem? Paralysis or sins? Paralysis is only a symptom of the great sins that we have. In the eyes of Jesus, the greater problem is the sin. Once forgiven, Jesus then asks paralytic to get up and go.
May we find the true spiritual doctor Jesus who will take away the original deep rooted big problem of sin.
Matthew was called Levi in today’s passage. Right after healing the paralytics, Jesus calls Levi who was a tax collector. According to the roman law, the way to choose tax collectors is via a bid among the Jews. The person with the highest bid will win the post. If they bid a high amount, they would need to collect that amount, it is not easy to collect, so Roman government will provide the military to help him. This tax collector will collect tax and extra money around his town. Tax was between 2-15% or more during that time. That is why tax collectors were considered traitors of the nation. The Israelites hated the tax collectors so much that they were considered lower than prostitutes. So tax collectors had no other friends, only sinners and prostitutes. When Jesus came to Levi’s house, he called all his friends to his house, who are these friends? Prostitutes and sinners and tax collectors. Mark 2:17.
The 2 people we talked about was the paralytic and Levi. The paralytic could not do anything by himself because his body was paralysed. Matthew was socially paralysed. The paralytic had 4 friends carrying him, so we can presume his family members had given up on him. Matthew had probably lost all his friends by being a tax collector.
Problem is solved only when you meet Jesus. Especially in this paralysed situation, helpless, I recommend you to meet with Jesus. Are you in need to meet Jesus right now? Or have you met Jesus? If you have met Jesus, now you know. Then I would like to ask you become the blessed 4 friends, who will carry someone else, another paralytic to bring them to Jesus. That is the greater blessing.