This is Breakfast With Dad, a collection of devotions on books of the Bible that I send out to over 150 friends and family members. I hope you will take time to read the most recent blog and maybe one of two from past offerings. If you have an interest in studying the Bible or have been thinking about starting a daily devotion, this would be a good place to begin. I started writing these devotions when my youngest son moved away from home and was having a hard time in his life. I used to fix him a hot breakfast every morning before school, so I decided to send him spiritual food instead to encourage his heart. I hope these "breakfasts" encourage you.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Matthew 9:1-8 Filled with Awe!

Matthew 9:1-8  Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town.  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.”  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. 

In addressing this paralyzed man, Jesus puts the reality of existence in correct perspective.  He first encourages the man by saying, your sins are forgiven.  Of course as with Jesus’ mission of deliverance with the two demon-possessed men on the other side of the Sea of Galilee, this encounter in his home town was planned by the Holy Spirit.  These men who carried this paralyzed man believed Jesus had divine power to heal.  They probably were not concerned about the sick man’s soul, only his physical condition.  But Jesus immediately puts everything in correct perspective: the soul needed healing more than the physical body.  Of course, the spiritual sickness within the human soul is the primary problem of life, keeping us away from eternal life with God.  However, this need is often subservient to finding answers for our daily problems.  The men that brought this paralyzed man to Jesus wanted his flesh to be healed, not his soul.  But Jesus immediately goes to the need of the man’s soul, for Jesus’ mission on Earth was to bring salvation to all humans, everywhere. Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.  A strong belief in the Jewish culture at that time was that disabilities, sicknesses, troubles and deaths were the results of sin in people’s lives.  So, the paralyzed man probably thought this was a good beginning for his physical healing.  He might have thought, “Yes, thank you for getting rid of the reason that has caused my paralysis.”  But Jesus explains to the teachers of the law why He forgave this man’s sins first: “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.”  He wanted the teachers of the law to understand He came to make men right with God the Creator of all life.  As John 3:16 explains so clearly, God’s motivation for sending Jesus was not to clear up every difficulty and problem in life, but to deliver eternal life to the world because God loves the world.  To deliver life, sin must be conquered, so Jesus tells this paralyzed man that his sins are forgiven, placing him in right standing with God.  Of course the teachers of the law were incensed by this statement of forgiving sin, for they believed, rightly so, that only God can forgive sins.  No man can do what only God can do: “This fellow is blaspheming!”  They were mistaken only because they did not believe that Jesus was truly God, which He was.  This account elevates Jesus’ ministry to something more than just being a powerful, divine man blessed by God or maybe a good man with a prophet’s assignment from God himself, for only God can forgive sin.  His actions caused the teachers of the law to accuse him of blasphemy and the crowd to praise God for the authority He evidenced with such power.  As we read in ActsGod anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.  (10:38)

Jesus calls himself the Son of Manthe Ultimate Man or the Complete Man.  When man was created from the dust, God placed his image inside of him.  God’s nature was instilled into this product of dust.  Because of that, Adam had full fellowship with God and intimate relationship as they walked together in the Garden in the cool of the day.  At that time, there was no barrier between God and man.  Adam knew the Lord’s will, just as Jesus reveals his obedience to the will of God.  The gospel of John gives us a wealth of verses confirming this: By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.  (5:30)  For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.  (6:38)  The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.  (8:29)  Why did Jesus always do the Father’s will?  Because there is no barrier of fellowship between him and his Father.  The curtain between God and man as the curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the world was never between Jesus and the Father.  Of course, until the sacrifice of the Perfect Man, Jesus, was complete, that curtain remained intact between God and sinful men.  The Spirit of God could not come and abide in men’s souls before their salvation from sin.   Because Jesus the Christ possessed the Holy Spirit in his soul, He was the second Adam, the Perfect Man, possessing the Spirit who was from beginning of time.  Of course, Jesus as the perfect man, calling himself the Son of Man, was fully persuaded to follow God, even to the cross.  In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul talks about the revelation of Jesus, the life-giving Adam.  If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.  So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.  The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.  The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven.  As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven.  And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.  I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  (45-50)  When Jesus came to the paralyzed man, He was bringing the imperishable to him: Your sins are forgiven.  He was bringing God’s anointing of righteousness to this man, to prove it he says, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”  He emphatically announced, I have the power to forgive sin or I have the power to make the perishable into the imperishable.  I am the perfect Son of Man, the One who is right with God and who always has perfect fellowship with the Father.  Through his encounter with the paralytic man, Jesus announced to the world that He has the ability to make men, created out of dust, into children of God.  The first Adam could not implement that for he was made from dust, but the second Adam, the life-giving Spirit of Jesus Christ, could create eternal beings from mere humans, his brothers and sisters in the household of God.  As Jesus said, I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  (John 10:10)

As we look at this story dear friends around the breakfast table, we often praise Jesus for his authority over the flesh.  He did restore this man to health, and the man did pick up his mat and go home.  Then the man got up and went home.  But the story is actually putting this fleshly life and its relationship with eternal life in correct perspective.  This paralyzed man, made from the elements of this world was going to receive much more than just healing of his broken, finite body.  He was going to receive a spiritual redemption from the life-giving spirit, known as Jesus of Nazareth.  The crowd observing this scene was amazed that Jesus, a mere man, could have this kind of power.  When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.  For Jesus did not address the illness as a healer might: He addressed the condition of the man’s soul that only God could heal.  Jesus did not say, Be encouraged, you will be healed today.  No, He said, Be encouraged for the final solution for your sick soul will be solved today: your sins will be forgiven.  I, Jesus, will clean the slate of sin that separates you from your Creator.  We might think, how long did this man’s slate stay clean?  Well, because we know Jesus is the Messiah, and that He came to deliver the souls of men to God through his sacrifice, we can consider him to be the propitiation for this man’s sins.  Knowing that faith in Jesus as the Son of God is the key to everlasting life, we must assume that the sacrifice on the cross that will happen later will be the efficacious sacrifice for this man soul, just as it was for the man on the cross.  Then he (the thief) said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.  (Luke 23:42)  Jesus had not died yet, but the man’s soul was to be remembered because of his faith in the Christ.  Surely this once paralyzed man would carry his faith in Jesus as the Messiah to his own grave.  God would remember him, for Jesus said his sins were forgiven.  The question for us today dear friends around the breakfast table as we share this meal about the paralytic man, who are we carrying to Jesus?  Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat.  In this day of the pandemic, there are many trapped in their homes as this man was trapped in his body, but some men really loved this man.  They used their energy to carry him to Jesus.  Their action took planning, teamwork, and effort—real commitment to their cause.  Who are we carrying to Jesus today?  Or, are we so concerned about our struggles with life that we do not think of others?  Does the pandemic affect us so much that we feel we have no strength or desire to help others, those who cannot help themselves?  We can display the second Adam, not the first Adam, if we are willing to help others know God in their lives.  We have a blessed hope in Christ to offer those who are hurting and afraid.  Love should drive us to the mission of helping others.  There are many gifts in this world that we can offer, but the greatest of these is love.  (1 Corinthians 13:13)   

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