Session #068 Faith Facts
Scripture Matthew 9:1-8
Summary Matthew 9:1-8 records another healing miracle. Yet, again, there is more to it than meets the eye. Drawing from the facts of this account, Henson shares perspectives about faith: 7 faith facts that will encourage all in our faith journeys as we love and serve the Messiah and His kingdom.
So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city. Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.” And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, “This Man blasphemes!” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins”—then He said to the paralytic, “Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” And he arose and departed to his house. Now when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled and glorified God, who had given such power to men. Matthew 9:1–8 ( cf Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26)
It is not what you see or hear. The facts can be presented before you, and you can still refuse to face the facts.
Today’s passage is about faith. But not everyone in the account believed it. Not surprising. Jesus described the people of His day as having eyes and not seeing, having ears, and not hearing. They professed a certain faith in God and still missed Jesus, the Messiah, and His kingdom.
Someone Else’s Faith is still Faith: The Faith of Friends (Matthew 9:2a)
Paralytic healing was first mentioned in Matthew 4:24 and 8:6. This time, the paralytic was brought before Jesus by four friends. His four friends believed enough, cared enough, and were determined enough to get this man to Jesus – even if it meant cutting the queue and the roof. Sometimes it is easier to believe for someone else than yourself, perhaps easier if it is someone we do not know.
Have you been the beneficiary of someone else’s faith? Someone invited you, brought you, prayed for you, paid for you, did something for you, pointed you to Jesus, awakened you, helped you align, encouraged you in your assignment?
We all need the faith of friends, kingdom-minded saints, brothers and sisters in Christ who gather for the right reason, for the fellowship of the gospel of the kingdom of God. They may not necessarily be the super-spiritual types who always have a Christian slogan or standard Bible Verse ready. If your faith is wavering or weak, it is ok to “hang on” to someone else’s faith. We can observe and learn, experiencing God’s faithfulness, and grow in faith.
Would you be the friend that ‘lends’ your faith for the sake of someone else? The faith of the paralytic was not mentioned at all. Many have no strength or ability to get to Jesus on their own. Too many have paralysis by analyzing too much. However, we often explain away our faith by rationalizing how difficult it is for someone else since he or she does not believe.
Faith Can Be Seen (Matthew 9:2)
Often, we consider faith as something personal and private. Here, we see faith described as something external and visible. Jesus saw their faith, Jesus saw the way they loved their friend and did all they could to bring him to Jesus. They did not just believe that Jesus can help the man. They acted upon that belief.
Faith is a verb. It is not passive but active (Hebrews 11). Because of what they believed, they were willing to live as they did. And to make decisions, however radical. We see someone’s faith by how they live and act.
How one lives and acts and speaks will show you what a person’s faith and belief system is all about. How visible is your faith to others? If you say that you believe, are your actions consistent with your faith? People should be able to see your faith through your life and your decisions.
Faith Comes Surprises (Matthew 9:2)
Faith can surprise us with the unexpected. We have always been told that we will receive whatever we believe. But faith is believing God regardless. Often, it means being willing to be surprised by how God answers and when.
Surprise! No Rejection. Only Acceptance.
The faith understanding of the Jews is associated with sin and sickness. Most would think that the man deserved to be paralyzed and condemned.
But Jesus’ response was a surprise as there was no condemnation or rejection. There was just love, grace, acceptance, and encouragement.
Imagine the shame, pain, and discomfort the paralytic has endured all his life. Jesus prefaced the pronouncement with “Son” (child) and “Be of good cheer” (it is ok). How comforting, assuring, and accepting these words would have been to him.
Surprise! No Physical Healing?
The friends and paralytic came to Jesus for physical healing, but Jesus surprises everyone by declaring forgiveness. Jesus knows exactly what is needed. By declaring forgiveness, Jesus was not associating his sickness with sin. He was merely going straight to the root of Man’s problem. More important than physical healing is spiritual healing. This man’s paralysis is a picture of our complete and utter spiritual inability before God.
Surprise! No Repentance Before forgiveness?
We are not sure if the man had faith? We do not read of his repentance of sin. But what we do see is the extension of God’s grace that extends to someone in need of healing and salvation.
Surprise! The Power to Forgive!
Jesus did not say “Your sins will be forgiven” (future tense) – an exhortation of hope; or “Your sins have been forgiven” (past tense) – separating the forgiveness but this event. But He said, “Your sins are forgiven” (present tense): Jesus’ pronouncement there and then as the means of forgiveness.
With the power to forgive sin there and then, Jesus has authority over sin. The scribes were surprised and offended. They opposed and called Jesus blasphemous.
Faith Can Attract Opposition (Matthew 9:3)
The scribes were teachers and experts of the law and they were not pleased with Jesus. They all had the same thoughts and perhaps muttered amongst themselves. What is Jesus saying and claiming? This is ridiculous, blasphemous (Mark 2:6-7).
To blaspheme is to revile, to hurt the reputation with reports or words, to slander. In this case, it is to take God’s name in vain; to consider oneself equal with God. To them, only God forgives sins (Isaiah 43:25).
Caution #1: When we profess to speak for or about God, we want to be responsible and accurate. However, our faith declarations and statements may not always meet with approval or acceptance. We need to be ready for opposition or challenge, especially from those within the faith or the institution.
Caution #2: Careful that we do not oppose something just because it does not sit well with us, or with our traditions. Theological, doctrinal, denominational differences can divide. Be careful that we do not become like the scribes, teachers, experts in the Law, or Pharisees who hold to the letter of Law. Do not be too quick to judge or condemn, and consider carefully. Discern what God is doing or saying. Search the Scriptures. Seek counsel and guidance.
Faith Rises to Meet Challenge (Matthew 9:4-7) – Jesus’ Identity, Authority, Assignment Challenged
The origination of sin is thoughts when fully conceived, lead to acts of evil. To the Jews, only God knows what is in the human hearts and He shares that knowledge with the great prophets. So, either Jesus is a great prophet, or He is God.
Jesus referenced Himself as “the Son of Man has power on earth” which is Messianic Title in Daniel 7:3. The intent is Christological, establishing Jesus’s authority on earth (Matthew 28:18).
A faith statement is easier to receive than that of physical healing. Forgiveness cannot be seen or proven but healing can be verified. Using a Semitic argument, from the lesser-to-the-greater logic, if I can show you the harder, it will prove the easier. “If God would authorize Jesus visibly to heal the effects of humanity’s fallenness, would he not send him to combat that fallenness itself?”
Jesus did not say, “Arise and walk.” Jesus told the man, “Arise, take up your bed and go to your house.” Matthew 9:6. The man did not just take a few steps but immediately, with the strength to carry his mat and to walk all the way home.
Application: Which is Easier?
To declare ourselves as Christians, or to live as Christians? To say all things are possible with God, or to live the impossible with God? It is easy to claim everything but not easy to verify that statement. We can claim that we have been saved and forgiven but do we live that way? If we can live out the “harder” part, it proves the “easier” part. Faith enables us to do that. The more we are challenged, the more we trust God.
Faith Brings Glory to God (Matthew 9:8)
Our faith in God, visibly seen and expressed through our lives and obedience, brings glory to God. It may not be that apparent in today’s secular context, as many are usually described as luck or good fortune. Our part is to keep living out our faith whether others are willing to face the facts or not, to acknowledge God or not.
Faith pleases God (Hebrews 11:6). When we believe and trust in God, it pleases Him. When my children listen to my advice and take heed to what I share with them, they trust me. It pleases me. How much more a good and perfect Father in heaven?
Our faith is not for ourselves, but the glory of God. No one can boast about themselves. In the end, it’s all God. Our part is to believe and to move on that faith. We trust and obey, for there’s no other way. God receives all the glory.
Faith is Given to All
The multitudes considered Jesus as one of the prophets, like Elijah or Elisha who also performed miracles in the name of God. They have not accepted Jesus’ deity or messiahship yet. Matthew might be pointing forward to a delegation of authority to disciples of Jesus. We have this promise as it is a measure of faith by grace. Faith unleashes the power of God
Where are you in your walk of faith? Which do you identify with most in this passage?
Whatever has taken place in your life, there are the facts that we face. Learn to “faith the facts” or apply faith to the facts, to see the goodness and faithfulness of God through every season as we love and serve the Messiah and His kingdom.