On the Paralytic

The Paralytic

Matthew 9:1-8

In the story of the paralytic, we see a man who is paralyzed, and is brought by his friends before Jesus. Jesus, seeing the man, first forgives him of his sins, and then heals him, telling him to return to his home. It’s a story that each of us are very familiar with. And, the Scriptures tell us, that once the man returns to his home healed, the “multitudes saw it and glorified God.”

There are a few things, four points, that are extremely imperative for us to note in this story. It’s so important to understand that each of us is the paralytic in this story. So, when we look into this story, the first point, which is unavoidable, is that faith is absolutely necessary for our healing. It is indispensable, for a paralyzed man could perform no deed or action which could ever bring about his own healing. Secondly, related to this fact, however, is that faith must also be collective, and while it is faith which leads to this healing, it must be faith which is manifest in deeds. The Scripture states that his friends had brought him before the Healer, thus, had his friends not believed, then they would not have brought him to Him; however, had they believed that his faith alone could heal them and that their deeds were not necessary, neither would they have brought him to Him. It was rather their faith manifest in their deeds which allowed this healing to happen.

The third thing that we must recognize in this story is that Jesus heals him, but that healing always begins with the forgiveness of sin. It’s important that we understand this absolute need for forgiveness, and thus, our constant need to seek the mercy of our Lord before this process can continue. Whenever we recognize in ourselves some sin that we have fallen prey to, we must immediately fall down before our Lord in repentance asking for His forgiveness; understanding that it is only through the grace of the Holy Spirit that we will overcome these shortcomings.

All of this leads to the fourth point that we must understand. Jesus’ command after this healing seems simple enough. “Arise, take your bed, and return home.” And it is through seeing this great change in him that the multitudes glorified God.

See, this is important to us on so many levels. When we have acquired the grace of the Holy Spirit, it will be evident to all those who surround us. There will be an earthquake in our life, shaking the very foundation of our being. A man resurrected from the grave is no small change, and that is who we are when we are filled with the Holy Spirit. We put off the old man and put on Christ. Consider, this was a man who was paralyzed, unable to even stand on his own, and after meeting the great Physician, he walks back home carrying his bed in his own hands. And so apparent should the change in our lives be as well.

We must remember that we are called to “be holy, for the Lord your God is holy.” Holy, not self-righteous, and there is a huge difference. Holiness focuses on our own faults, whilst self-righteousness focuses on the faults of others. When we have acquired the grace of the Holy Spirit, we should no longer be this sinner, wandering blindly through the darkness of the world, seeking the same goals and agenda; but rather, we should constantly be seeking after this holiness, the “righteousness of God.” And it is through this very transformation that the multitudes will glorify God. We should study the Scriptures, but not for the sake of knowing the Scriptures, but for the sake of living them. God will never be glorified by our knowledge of the words written on a page, but rather by the transformation in our lives when we truly begin living them. When we seek after the holiness, the righteousness of God in our own lives, instead of using the words of Scripture as an excuse to insult others, then we will see this glorification of the Lord. As St Seraphim of Sarov teaches us, “acquire a peaceful spirit, and then thousands around you will be saved.”

It is not our ability to argue using the words of Scripture which will lead others to the kingdom, it is the peace and love that we find and display when we have acquired the true Spirit which will lead others to the kingdom. It is not our knowledge of Scripture, but rather the icon of Christ we present to the world when we allow the words of Scripture to influence our every thought, decision, and action. When we are able to truly love the Lord with all our heart, soul and might, and to truly love our neighbor as ourselves.

Christ is in our midst.

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