Beyond Our Expectations

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It’s the oddest encounter. Some men bring a paralyzed friend to Jesus (Matthew 9:1-8). We assume that they have brought him because they want Jesus to make him walk again. I say “assume” because, even though it turns out the Jesus does heal the paralytic, something else happens in between that might indicate that something other than physical healing was on their minds.

Some men 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’” (vs. 2).

From what we have recorded for us in Scripture, when the sick came to Jesus He simply healed them. But this case is different. It wasn’t until accused of blasphemy by the teachers of the law who were watching Him that Jesus physically healed the man on the mat. It seems that He did so to prove a point—that the One who could physically heal also had the authority to spiritually heal. The man on the mat is almost incidental!

But what about the man on the mat? Had he come because his illness was the result of some sin in his life and Jesus responded to the cause of the illness rather than to the consequences of it? Not all illness is the result of sin, but sometimes it is.

Or did the man arrive, carried by his friends, because a cure for his illness was not why he had come for in the first place? Jesus, looking into his heart, saw that this sick man really wanted a Saviour for his soul more than he needed a Healer for his body.

I don’t know whether either of these speculations is valid. It just seems to me that this whole encounter is so out of sync with what Jesus normally did when approached by sick people that there had to have been something else going on that we don’t know about.

In the end, it really doesn’t matter what the motives behind this encounter were. What matters is the reminder that Jesus sees not only something as obvious as paralysis of the body, but that He searches the heart and sees the paralysis there. He not only sees it, but He responds to it when we come to Him believing that He is able to not only meet all of our expectations but to go beyond our expectations and deliver more than we could ever imagine.


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