Summary: In the story of Jesus healing the paralytic, we see the love of the man’s friends and the love of Jesus coming breaking the rules in order to change lives.
Matthew 9:2-7 “Love Breaks the Rules”
What is love? Love is a popular word in the English language. Perhaps its popularity has led to its over use and its loss of meaning. Certainly “I love spaghetti,” means something very different from the, “I love you,” that we whisper to our spouse, close friend, or children. What do we mean when we say, “Love makes the world go around,” or “All we need is love,” or “Love is a many splendored thing”?
Love is an abstract term that must be demonstrated in order to be understood. When the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth, he stated that love, “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.” He concludes with the powerful words, “Love never ends.”
With St. Paul’s words in mind, let’s look at the story of Jesus healing the paralytic and see how love is demonstrated by the paralytic’s friends and by Jesus.
LOVE BEARS ALL THINGS
The men in this story broke the rules; they went against the norms and expectations of society. They associated with a sinner. Their friend’s paralysis was seen by many as God’s judgment upon him for his unrighteousness. Quite possibly the paralytic himself believed that he had committed some grave sin against God—even though he couldn’t figure out what it was. His friends did not dessert him, though.
The men broke another rule—they got involved in their friend’s problem. The society in which they lived was similar to ours. People didn’t become involved in the lives and problems of others unless they were asked, and then only with great hesitation.
The men demonstrated that love bears all things when they literally bore their friend and placed him in front of Jesus in order to be healed.
Of course, Jesus shows his love by forgiving the paralytic’s sin by bearing it on the cross.
LOVE BELIEVES ALL THINGS
The paralytic’s friends believed that Jesus would heal their friend, even if he might not have believed. Their love for both their friend and Jesus enabled them to believe and place their faith and trust in God.
The faith of the paralytic’s friends was in direct contrast to the skepticism of the Jewish legal scholars. They didn’t believe Jesus was God. They didn’t believe that he could really heal people and they certainly didn’t believe that Jesus should or could forgive sins.
Several people have experience visits to the doctor for what they thought was a routine problem, only to have the doctor discover some life-threatening condition. Many people have made a request of God only to have God answer their prayer in a surprisingly different manner that met their need more fully. Jesus forgiving the sins of the paralytic seems to be similar to these two situations. The paralytic had a physical problem, but his spiritual condition was of much greater importance.
Jesus broke the rules because of his love. He loved the paralytic enough to not give him a Band-Aid cure, but to healing him fully and completely. His love also enabled him to ignore the expectations and notions of the religious scholars—to do what was right rather than what was expected.
LOVE HOPES ALL THINGS
Forgiveness is a great gift, but I suspect that the paralytic and his friends were disappointed that Jesus did not heal him and make him walk again. There are times when we are disappointed about how God has answered our prayers until we understand the full extent of what God has done.
Though they were disappointed, the men continued to hope. The love enabled them to hope in the midst of their disappointment.
Jesus breaks the rules of nature and physically heals the paralytic. He heals to prove that he was able to do godlike things—because he was God. Only God could heal, and only God could forgive sins.
When the people saw that the man was healed and could walk again, they were awed by what Jesus had done. Love broke the rules and opened the door for people to see God grace and power.
People are not impressed by religious scholars, abstract theology, or empty religious rituals. What people want is a religion and a faith that changes their lives and makes a difference. Love that bears all things, believes all things, endures all things, enables people to see beyond the rules of daily life and discover a loving, powerful, forgiving God.