What is gripping your spirit and restricting your freedom of movement?
For me, very little arrests my spirit quite like the unwanted presence of guilt and shame. The shadows of my past still cast a blinding darkness on my present path. Scared and shaken, I stumble as I struggle to walk in this newness of life.
The amount of time wasted on worthless thinking.
The unnecessary pain caused by naive, ignorant, or hateful speech.
The disgraceful distortions of a body intended to sing and dance before the Lord.
Oh, the freedom of the future if it were not for the penalty of the past.
A verse called for my attention this morning while I was reading from the Gospel of Matthew. A group of people approach Jesus carrying a paralyzed man. The story of this man’s encounter of Jesus was a welcomed reminder of God’s power in the present through Jesus Christ, which is greater than any imperfection in my past.
Jesus has just returned to Capernaum (the “home-base” of his Galilean ministry) when he encounters the man and his friends. Jesus offers a strange pronouncement given the situation. Jesus pronounces the forgiveness of the man’s sins.
Just what you would want from Jesus, too, right?
In fact, Jesus tells the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” If I am the man, I am not finding much comfort in his directive to “take heart.” My limbs are restricted by paralysis and Jesus wants to reassure me of the forgiveness of my sins…
The pronouncement of Jesus sets off an exchange between a group of scribes (students of the Mosaic Law) and him. These scribes assert Jesus is blaspheming, because he is not capable of proclaiming one’s forgiveness of sin.
Because Jesus is awesome, he reveals his authority by commanding the man to stand up and walk home. The man drags his feet off the mat. He stumbles to his feet. And, the man begins to walk…a new walk…home.
Jesus restores the paralyzed man. He restores the use of his limbs. The man is able to walk, because of the word Jesus spoke.
Some of you know the struggle of this man. You know what it means to have your body restricted of its use. You know what it means to have lost control of your hands, arms, feet, and legs. You know…
Some of you know the paralysis of the body that stems from chronic pain, from illness, from depression. You know what it means to want to move, but to have your body limited by something at work on you, by something at work in you.
Others of you know paralysis of another kind. The word of restoration spoken by Jesus to this man is a word of of hope for you. You know what it means to have your spirit restricted by the firm grip of guilt and shame.
Jesus possesses the power to restore the paralyzed man, but his intention was to free him of his sin. The real limitation of this man was not the failings of his body, but the power of his sin. Jesus restores the man of his ability to walk, but this deed of power underscores the greater gift given to this man: his ability to walk in a newness of life.
To those of you paralyzed by the grip of guilt and shame, discover hope in the power of Jesus’ word – “Take heart, child; your sins are forgiven.”
You are not your past!
You have been set free to live for His glory today and tomorrow. You are being restored so that you might be free to walk in a newness of life.
So, get up and walk…
As always, comments are welcome and sharing is encouraged!