A paralytic, a tax collector, a desperate woman, a dead girl, and two blind men, these are the stories of Matthew of 9. We usually hear these stories alone, one by one. They are taught as if each story has their opening and closing for us to glean or takeaway one thing:
Jesus forgives sins.
Jesus calls us to follow.
Jesus heals the desperate.
Jesus raises the dead.
Jesus heals the blind.
But today, let’s bind them together. Let’s see how Jesus arrives at his own hometown (Capernaum) and uses his day to bring about Good News. A day to allow the Gospel not only to be preached but to be experienced! To do this without telling each story again, I ask that you read the whole chapter yourself, then come back (or just continue reading).
Now listen to Jesus in each story, but all together. Try not to picture them in their separate story.
“Take heart, your sins are forgiven.”
“Take heart, your faith has healed you.”
“I say to you, Rise.” (ok, I borrowed this from the same story in Mark 5)
“According to your faith be it done to you.”
Read them again and read them slowly.
Matthew 9 has Jesus in many different settings continuing to heal, call, teach, and restore. 5 stories. 5 ways to hear the Gospel being spoken to us from Jesus himself. 5 ways to experience and live out a Gospel Culture. But when 5 stories become 1 story, when they are spoken to us together, we desire nothing more than to spend our day in his presence.
There are days that we need to hear all these words to be encouraged in our discipleship. We may not be able to provide literal physical healing, but how much can we heal and restore with words of forgiveness? What temptations or complacency can we walk away from when hearing Jesus’ call, “Follow Me?” How do we experience healing from faith? Where do we see Jesus telling us to “take heart” so we don’t allow a desperate situation to overwhelm us?
Then there are days that we need to hear these words so that we may encourage others in their discipleship journey. And today might as well be that day!
May you hear and walk in the forgiveness that Jesus speaks over you.
May you respond to the calling of Jesus as he leads you daily.
May you take heart knowing that your belief in who Jesus is has healed you.
May you rise knowing that you have been made alive in Christ.
May you SEE Jesus through your belief and faith that he is able to do “immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.”
Written by: John Kimberlin, Youth and Family Minister