- We want to begin with something that stands out early in the story: the fact that they obviously come for physical healing, but Jesus responds to the man by saying that his sins are forgiven.
- Why would Jesus do that? Was He unaware of what they’d come for? (Obviously not.) Was He trying to be difficult with them? (No.) What is He doing then?
WHY DID JESUS GIVE THEM SOMETHING THEY WEREN'T ASKING FOR? They came for physical healing, but Jesus wanted to give them more.
- Matthew 9:2.
- It seems odd that Jesus offers the paralytic the spiritual healing when it seems obvious that he and his friends have come for the physical healing. One of the reasons that He does that is that He wants him to have more than mere physical healing. (Another reason is that I think He was poking at the Pharisees.)
- Physical healing is wonderful and amazing, but is the lesser gift. Even if the man is healed, he’s still going to die someday and there will be an end to the value of that gift. Like has been said many times before, Lazarus was raised from the dead by Jesus, but would again die someday.
- The spiritual healing that is represented in the forgiveness of sins is a far greater, more essential, and long-lasting healing. The forgiveness of sins represents our greatest need – to find a way to be able to have peace with God. The forgiveness of sins represents a deeper need – a healing of the heart rather than merely of the body. The forgiveness of brings a lasting impact – it opens the door to Jesus’ gift of eternal life.
- It is an open question whether the man sitting there waiting for healing saw Jesus’ words as a greater gift or not, but that doesn’t change the fact that it was.
- This raises the question: why don’t we see more of these “greater” answers?
- Why don’t we ask more often for these greater answers?
WHY ARE OUR PRAYER REQUESTS OFTEN SO SMALL? Often, we want God to fix our problems, not change our lives.
- Matthew 9:2-6.
- Many of us come for the physical healing (or the answer to prayer or the fix to our problem or whatever) and that’s all we want. Jesus wants to give us more.
- v. 2.
- The problem with that “more” is that it usually involves some substantive changes to our lives. That’s not what we came for. We came for the “fix” and that’s all.
- That creates a problem because God is looking to do more than that. He’s looking to mold us into Christlikeness and transform our lives. We generally are not coming to Him asking to have our lives changed – just our problems fixed.
- We don’t want a re-arranging of our lives.
- v. 3.
- Consider the teachers of the law here. They are not open to this miracle that Jesus is going, even after the undeniable physical healing happens.
- v. 8.
- They saw the same miracle that everyone else saw and praised God for, but they were unwilling to budge in their thoughts.
- They didn’t want God to rearrange their lives. They wanted Him to back up their pre-conceived prejudices.
- We’re often the same way: we don’t want God challenging us and pushing us in new directions. We just want Him to empower our agenda. We just want Him to give us what we want. We don’t want Him to make us examine our priorities and question our hearts and re-order our lives.
- Many want a “you-don’t-bother-me, I-won’t-bother-you” arrangement.
- In that, we only ask for something when we really need it and God only provides the answer to that specific thing.
- Why do we want lesser things?
a. It may be because we just want our problem fixed, not our life rearranged.
b. It may also be because we don’t realize our deeper needs. We don’t know what we really need.
- Why are our prayer requests so small?
- What is a major reason that we don’t see more power from God?
- What we ask for is often much less than God is willing to give.
- How much of God do we want?
- Do we want all that God has for us, or just a teaspoon of God?
- Do we believe that the more of Him we get the better our lives will be?
- In these verses, the seen miracle is mostly there as proof of the unseen miracle.
- vv. 4-6.
- One way to put it:
a. Few are excited about Jesus offering them eternal life (even though that’s a pretty amazing gift).
b. Some are excited about Jesus offering them abundant life.
c. Many are excited about Jesus giving them a comfortable life (even though that’s not something He necessarily promised).
EXAMPLES FROM TODAY:
- This is like a smoker who takes a cough drop to stop their hack instead of stopping smoking. He’s just looking for an easy fix to the concern, not a transformation of his habits and lifestyle.
- What are some examples of ways that we do this in our prayer life?
1. “Help my teen straighten up” vs. me living passionately for Christ because my child following Christ is my highest parenting goal.
2. “Help me get to sleep” vs. having a trust in my Father that allows me to give my worries to Him.
3. “Give me an answer” vs. having a deep understanding of the Bible to guide my approach to life.
4. “Don’t let me get fired” vs. having a security that is not measured by how much is in the bank.
A TOUGH QUESTION: Do I trust God enough to want to know His answer to my deeper need?
- Matthew 7:7.
- What do you really need Jesus to do for you?
- Look for your deeper need.
- If I believe God is much wiser and more loving than me, then I’m going to want to know His direction in my life.
- It’s a choice, though, and a big one: do I want to go on this journey with God to change my life? Do I want His greater blessings? Do I want His deeper wisdom?
- It requires that I trust God and want all that He can bring in my life.
- Many of us are not there, even though we’ve been Christians for a while. We’re content with less than God’s best. We’d rather have control ourselves than to go with Him.
- Ask God to give you all He can of His blessing.
- Ask God for His very best, even if that’s not what you’d initially presume that should look like.
- Don’t settle in your prayers.
- Don’t settle in your relationship with God.
- C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory: “It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
- As believers, we often don’t ask, seek, and find all that God is willing to give.
- Matthew 7:7.
- In John 14:12, Jesus promises that we will do greater things than He did. That requires a great faith and prayer that wants everything that God can give us.