Monday, February 27, 2012

Rise Up and Go, Free from Bondage

And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven." And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, "This man is blaspheming." But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven', or to say, 'Rise and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"- he then said to the paralytic- "Rise, pick up your bed and go home." When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. Matthew 9:1-8
Imagine a basketball player who loses the use of his knee. With his career at stake, he seeks out physical therapy in hopes of getting back out on the courts. Depending on the tear, this healing and strengthening process could take months or years. The therapy begins with a thick bandage to protect the wounded area from worsening. He is prescribed sequential exercises to gradually build up his strength. Baby steps. Progressive baby steps until hopefully he can once again put his weight on it. Now, let's imagine that he is indeed fortunate enough to regain the necessary strength. He's back out on the court in a practice session with his team, and his game is sloppy, his balance is off, and his shift is slow. Now begins the practice of rewiring his muscle memory, so that the neurological transmitters of the brain can efficiently send signals to all of the right muscles in a coordinated fashion that makes this player move with smooth confidence. Now, imagine a paralytic who has no memory of using certain muscles. The intensity of this patient's therapy would increase astronomically. Patience and determination would have to be at the core of the treatment, as the baby steps may be so minute that they are undetectable.
Now, turn your focus to the healing of the paralytic in Matthew, chapter 9. Jesus says, "Rise, pick up your bed and go home." All use of the parlytic's faculties are immediately in tact. The neurological system required for such movement is suddenly in operation. The muscles go from a deep sleep to a coordinated movement. In fact, in all of Jesus' healings recorded in the Bible, there is a complete newness, and the brokenness of the past remains in the past.
In Matthew 9, Jesus commands the attention of the scribes. All of their focus was on the man's ailment, but what are Jesus' first words? "Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven." Jesus knew it was important that the people understood His authority over sin and our need for that healing forgiveness because that is how we are made alive in Him for eternity. In both Biblical times and modern times, there are numerous accounts of miraculous healings. To God be the glory for all of these miracles. Some have witnessed such miracles personally; others have not. Well, guess what, my friends in Christ? We have all received a miraculous healing. Ephesians 2:4-5 says, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved"
How many times have I held on to the guilt or shame or pain of a sin? Only to be bogged down in life and in my dealings with God's people? We too, should rise up and go forth in our God-given lives, free from the bondage of sin. The sins of the past have been absolved. We are made new with Christ. Thanks be to God. Amen.

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