Reflections by Jerry Webber

Friday, July 6, 2018

A Brief Meditation: Matthew 9:1-8

Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some people brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”

At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”

Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.

(Matt. 9:1-8)


Notice that Jesus responds to the faith of those who carried the paralyzed man, not the faith of the man himself. Consider what this means for you.

*Consider one or two times you felt spiritually dry or empty . . . perhaps a period of depression or a season of "wandering in the wilderness" . . . and in that place, you were "carried" by the faith or prayers of someone around you.

What did it feel like to have little faith of your own or little sense of your own connection to God?

Who was the person(s) who "carried" you through that season?

What response of love might you make today for the generosity of that other person?

*Consider a time when someone around you had little faith or little sense of their own connection to God. Perhaps, in some small way, you "carried" that person with your love, prayer, or mercy until he or she could get back to their feet.

What led you to kindness for this other person who was "paralyzed"?

In what manner did the other person respond to you as you "carried" him or her?

What might be God's invitation to you for today as you think about this event from the past?

Notice that the story deals with a man who was paralyzed. His paralysis was a physical condition, but it must have been impacted by some spiritual undercurrent, because Jesus first addresses his spiritual need for release or wholeness: "Your sins are forgiven."

While not everyone experiences physical paralysis, every human knows the experience of emotional, social, or spiritual paralysis.
We may experience paralysis from toxic relationships . . .
Fear may paralyze us . . .
We may be paralyzed by our own expectations of God, others, and the world . . .
We may be frozen in place by the way we order our lives . . .
Resentment toward others may paralyze us . . .
Bitterness over past events may paralyze us . . .

*Consider ways in which you feel paralyzed today.

If it helps, use other language, images, or symbols for "paralyzed." For example, what keeps you frozen in place? What hinders you from moving freely on the path on which God has set you? In what room do you feel locked? What are the chains that hold you in place?

Perhaps you would find a creative way to acknowledge your paralysis . . . through some kind of artistic expression . . . or by a bodily posture or gesture that symbolizes your paralysis (a closed fist? . . . stiffened limbs?).

Offer a short prayer for freedom, perhaps something like, "Free me from my fear" or "Loosen the chains of _____ that hold me" or "Unlock the door to this room in which I feel trapped."

No comments: