Matthew 9 starts with a familiar story of a paralytic. He is being carried by his friends to be healed so that he may walk. And when he finally gets in front of Jesus, Jesus forgives his sins. Which is a big deal. It is a huge deal. And Pharisees don’t like what they hear. They cannot stand it. They grumble against it.
The next story Jesus calls Matthew. #HisnamemightbeLevi. It is in this story that the tax collector follows Jesus to his own house where there is a banquet happening. Jesus and Levi (#HisnamemightbeMatthew) eat with a crowd that is broken, shamed, unclean, and outside of the community. And this time the Pharisees don’t like what they see. They cannot stand it. They speak against it.
Both stories have the Pharisees present. They don’t seem to be the main attraction to the story, but they do add to it. The paralytic now walking among us is what leads us to glorify God. The table with Jesus present among the tax collectors and sinners brings us to the empty seat left for me to sit down.
But the presence of the Pharisees makes me. . . uncomfortable. The Pharisees in the two stories will not even speak to Jesus. In fact, in the first story they speak to themselves, in the second they speak to the disciples.
In BOTH stories Jesus speaks directly to them by knowing what was in their hearts and by hearing their words. And his words to them are words that make them perceive what is in their hearts. We see them as the bad guys all the time in the Gospels, so we assume that Jesus is always setting them straight with harsh questions, when actually His words to them are words to me. Spoken for me to perceive what is in MY HEART.
Do I hear through the words, “Your sins are forgiven” being spoken to the broken, the “Gospel Culture,” I long for? Do I see the table filled with the shamed the Kingdom of God breaking through?
Do I hear the ease of the revelation of the Kingdom being proclaimed as Jesus restores both physically and spiritually? Do I see the sick before the doctor and know that the culture is abounding in mercy?
Do I hear the presence of Jesus? Do I see the Mercy before me?
Read the stories from Matthew 9:1-13. Close your eyes and see. The paralytic walks out in full view of us all. The table is filled and has a spot for you.
I close with words inspired from the David Crowder Band who sing the song, “O Praise Him (All this for a King).” And you may want to turn it on to have a moment of worship.
May you “turn your ear to heaven and hear” the Kingdom around you.
May you “turn your gaze to heaven and raise” a Gospel noise of good news.
May you be filled with awe to praise God for what you hear and see.
written by John Kimberlin, LRC Youth and Family Minister