Photo by Freeimages.com
By Jaime Luce
Life happens! It happens to all of us. If you have a pulse and don’t live in a 6×3 foot box then life still happens. You can be cruising along just fine when like something out of a Batman and Robin episode “wham” you hit a speed bump or worse you can “splat” right into a wall. As the scripture says, “It rains on the just and the unjust”. There is no discrimination in the process of life. We all will experience it. Some for shorter periods of time and for others longer. These are the seasons. But as I was reading Jesus’ words today in Matthew 9 I was struck by the understanding that so many times we don’t understand why or what we really need.
I’m not going to attempt to answer your why today but maybe open your heart to hear a little bit better. The setting of the story is this. Jesus has just delivered men from demons in quite a display. Not because Jesus was making a show but the demons caused a whole herd of pigs to run of a cliff! Sadly though there was a great deliverance yet the people who witnessed it wanted nothing to do with the deliverer. They asked him to leave. Now I’m not saying that you would say out loud anything like that but I do think sometimes our actions ask for the same result. Jesus shows up and does a great work but maybe we don’t like the way he chose to do it. Ouch. That’s not part of my this muse today but it was free in case you needed it. That’s a hurdle for another day. Now back to the point. Jesus being the gentleman that he is left at their request. He decided to go back to his home town. He got in a boat and crossed over.
Now this is where we pick up for today. The scripture says in Verse 2 that a paralytic man was brought to Jesus and he saw their faith. I know sometimes we are so swallowed up by our circumstance that we not only can’t get to Jesus on our own but it’s their faith, those believing for you that carry us to the answer. No condemnation here. I’ve been there more times than I want to admit. Thank God for those who pray for us and encourage us along the way. Jesus is always moved by faith no matter if it was theirs or his. Here’s where is gets really interesting. Jesus say’s to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven you.” Now there is a whole exchange between Jesus and the scribes but that isn’t what struck me. You would think that Jesus would straight away tell the man what he most wanted to hear. You’re healed! But he didn’t. Was Jesus just wanting to spar with the scribes? Did he think the man was only lying down because he was tired? Didn’t he see what the real problem was?
That’s the point my friends. He did see what the real problem was. The scribes missed it. The friends missed it. Even the paralytic missed it. What really was wrong with the man? It wasn’t that his legs didn’t move. Jesus never spoke without thought. Every word was what he heard the Father say. He only did what he saw the Father do. So this was very strategic. Sometimes we have problems in our lives and we are praying for the seemingly obvious answer to those problems but are asking for the wrong things. If Jesus would have simply said your healed first and never said “Son, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven you” then this man would never have truly been healed. He would have just fell into the next thing. His legs may have worked but his heart wouldn’t have.
Let me unpack this a little for you. Sometimes the battles we are facing are just symptoms of the bigger problem. Jesus’ words explained what was going on. First he called him Son. This man needed to know he had a loving Father who claimed him as his own. No matter what he had ever thought or had done he was not forgotten. He wasn’t disqualified or written off because he had a handicap. He was still a Son. He was still loved and valued. Second, Jesus said “be of good cheer”. The man needed to know there was something worth having joy about, something that lasts longer than a passing laugh or something funny or a fleeting moment of happiness. To have good cheer is something you have on the inside that makes it’s way to the outside. It becomes contagious. Good cheer affects more than just you and Jesus was saying be of good cheer. It’s okay to be happy. Sometimes we believe the lie that we can’t be happy. Or that people will judge us for being happy. They think that because of our circumstance we should be walking around in sackcloth and ashes. Well it just isn’t the truth. Jesus has given us the permission to be happy. He commanded it. He didn’t say “hey man, you really should try to be happy”. It wasn’t a suggestion. Jesus knew what he was about to do. He knew the truth that was going to pierce that man’s heart and truly set him free. Here it is! This man needed to know that he was forgiven. Jesus went straight to the heart of the matter. It wasn’t his healing he needed most. Yes, he needed healing but above that he needed to know that he was forgiven. Many times we accept our ailments or troubles because we feel we deserve them. I have been there. We don’t realize the enemy has got us fooled. We are locked in a prison and we are holding the keys. Jesus always has the answer you need. I don’t know what you are facing today. It may or may not be physical but it can be debilitating none the less. How about trying something different today. Instead of praying for that thing to go away or be fixed or healed try asking him what you need. The scripture says in Matthew 6:8 not to be like the others. That he knows what we have need of before we ask. You can trust him. He doesn’t just want your circumstance to change. He wants to give you true joy. He came to give us life and that more abundantly. Don’t settle for the crumbs when you can have the bread. Don’t accept a life without joy. Let his light shine in your darkness today.
Today is your day. Be of good cheer!
Don’t be like the scribes who didn’t like what Jesus said. He can be trusted with everything that concerns you. You’re his child. He loves you! You’re not unworthy or disqualified. Son, Daughter, be of good cheer! Your sins are forgiven you. You don’t ever have to go back. And if you have never asked him to forgive you it’s just that simple. You just ask him and the scripture says that he is faithful an just to forgive us of all unrighteousness. Once we have this understanding we are then able to hear those words that that man was waiting to hear. Jesus then told him “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house”. And the man did just that and so can you. Walk out of that prison and find your joy!