Thursday, March 13, 2014

how can I prove this to you?

Matthew 9:1-8

Best part of my work space are my family photo and
the "grandma" jewel pen from Gio.
My desk at work is in open landscaping.  Oh, I have a desk and work space, but no walls and no door. Therefore, whatever happens anywhere in the office, I can hear it.  And whatever I say to clients on the phone or to my co-workers, everyone can hear me too.  There is no privacy, but worse, it is such a temptation for me to comment on what is going on at the other side of the office.  It's none of my business, yet I can hear it, I judge it, and I want to comment on it.   

Some people brought to Jesus a man who was paralyzed and was lying on a mat. Jesus saw that these people had much faith. So He said to the paralyzed man, “Young man, you will be glad to hear this. Your sins are forgiven.” 

Jesus too worked in open landscaping.  Everywhere, there were crowds and He had no privacy.  Here Jesus meets a paralyzed man who's friends had much faith and they seemed to be having a private moment together. Jesus considered the paralyzed man, and as God in the flesh, He had a perfect understanding of all things.  He knew just what this man needed.  Jesus looking into his heart, offered the paralyzed man the perfect gift: forgiveness of his sins.

How tempted I am to judge Jesus' words to him! Forgiveness of sins?  This man could not walk, couldn't Jesus see that?  First he needed to have his physical needs met, then Jesus could attend to his spiritual needs.  I hear it, I judge it, and I want to comment on it. Just like the teachers of the law.

Some of the teachers of the law heard what Jesus said. They said to themselves, “What an insult to God for this man to say that!”

That's the problem exactly. Jesus would be insulting God to claim the power belonging to God alone: the authority to forgive sins. Except for one small thing. Jesus is God. In reality, the teachers of the law are the one insulting God when they are insulting Jesus!

Wait! Don't I do this all the time?  I not only judge what my co-workers are doing, I judge what Jesus is doing. I think He is being mean or brash or unkind or ungrateful. Jesus also is eaves dropping. He calls out to the teachers of the law that they have evil thoughts, but in the end, His goal is to prove it to them. He wants them to know without a doubt that He is the Son of God, sent by God, and has the authority to forgive sins.       

Jesus knew what they were thinking. So He said, “Why are you thinking such evil thoughts? The Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins. But how can I prove this to you? Maybe you are thinking it was easy for Me to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ There’s no proof that it really happened. But what if I say to the man, ‘Stand up and walk’? Then you will be able to see that I really have this power.”

"Talk is cheap," my father often instructed us.  Jesus agrees. Here He uses action to back up His claim. Action that they can see immediately and believe in Him.

Judging others is rude.  Especially in open landscaping.  It's a habit I am diligently trying to break.  But judging Christ's actions and words, that is insulting God.  It's blasphemy. What Jesus says and what Jesus does is good and pure and true and beautiful by definition of the fact that He is God. I may not understand. I may have questions. Questions are ok. But judgment is not.  

Even still, Jesus reaches out in actions all around me whispering: I am who I say I AM and I will show you if you stay close to Me. I will show you amazing wonders and you will praise God. Beloved, forgive my sin of unbelief and allow me to see that all that You do is good and pure and true and beautiful.  Thank You for never giving up on me but instead forgiving me again and again and again. Truly it is what I need the most.  

So Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Stand up. Take your mat and go home.”  The man stood up and went home. The people saw this and they were amazed. They praised God for letting someone have such power.

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