Matthewby Mike Raiter
Good health is a blessing. Medical science has made great progress in improving people's physical health. People are living longer. I heard a forecast recently that we will soon be able to regenerate any part of the body, and so there will not be a Special Olympics after 2030 because there will no longer be anyone with a disability! We will see. Sadly, our personal report card on spiritual health is much grimmer.
When some men bring a paralysed man to Jesus, the Lord's first words are surprising: ″Your sins are forgiven″ (v. 2). Jesus is telling him-and us-that his greatest sickness is spiritual. Jesus is warning us not to look at the outside. Appearances do not always conform to reality. In His mercy, Jesus gives the man both physical and spiritual healing, for He has authority to heal and to forgive.
Driving home the point that Jesus has come to deal with our greatest need, Matthew then describes the salvation of a hated tax collector (Matthew himself), and the ensuing party with other sinners. In response to the criticisms of the Pharisees, Jesus again teaches about our greatest need, telling them that it is the spiritually sick who are the focus of His ministry.
Jesus' coming means a new day has dawned. Things can never be the same again. His listeners simply cannot relate to God in the ways they did before, through priests, sacrifices, temples, and altars (vv. 16-17). Now everyone must come to God through Jesus. The word ″bridegroom″ (v. 15) is a reference to the Messiah's coming and His wedding feast (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:23-32; Revelation 19:7, 9; 21:2). By using this term to refer to himself, Jesus is claiming to be the promised Messiah. Those who come to Him will celebrate (vv. 14-15). Joy is the hallmark of the forgiven sinner.
Jesus meets a paralytic and we would have said that his greatest need is to walk again. But we would have been wrong. His greatest need is forgiveness. When we see wars across our world and conflicts in our families, we would say that the greatest need is national peace and mutual reconciliation. Again, we would be wrong. The greatest need of every nation and every person is to know the Prince of Peace who can forgive their sins.
If Jesus came to those who were spiritually sick, why should we still devote time and energy to the physical and temporal needs of people?
What do you find worth celebrating in our knowledge of the Lord Jesus? How can we make our Christian gatherings more celebratory?