Physician (part 1)

Matthew 9:2-8

Some men brought to Him a paralytic man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to them 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 hearts, 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’?”…So He said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” And 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 human beings.

  • Reflect On: Matthew 9:2-8
  • Praise God: For His healing power.
  • Offer Thanks: For whatever health God has blessed you with.
  • Confess: Any sins that relate directly to your body—such as sexual sins, gluttony, sloth, or intemperance.
  • Ask God: To heal you, body, mind, and soul.

Imagine you are lying on a stretcher in the emergency room after having suffered a stroke. Though you cannot move, you are still aware of what’s going on around you. Suddenly a doctor leans over you, and instead of injecting you with a clot-busting drug, takes hold of your hand, looks you in the eye, and says: “Cheer up! Your sins are forgiven.” Wouldn’t it sound crazy, like a colossal non sequitur?

That’s how the story of the healing of the paralytic struck me on first reading. What does the man’s need for healing have to do with his need for forgiveness? We know that ignorance regarding what causes disease has resulted in millions of deaths over the course of human history. As recently as two hundred years ago, physicians treated their patients by bloodletting, vomiting, purging, an starving them. Benjamin Rush, a physician friend of John Adams and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, routinely prescribed bloodletting as a treatment for yellow fever. George Washington died after physicians drained several pints of blood from his body in hopes of curing a throat infection. No wonder the seventeenth-century French dramatist Moliere once quipped that most people die not form illness but from remedies.

But Jesus was not dealing in ignorance when He began to heal the paralyzed man by reading his heart and declaring his sins forgiven. He knew that every human being suffers from what might be called a kind of spectrum disorder. Thank of it like this: On the low end of the spectrum is the common cold, then comes allergies, then something like arthritis, then maybe cancer, and finally, on the extreme end of the spectrum,  is the most dreaded condition of all—death. Jesus already knew what science can never discover—that every one of our afflictions is ultimately rooted in sin. Sin breaks our connection with God, the Source of all wholeness and healing, distorting and obstructing His plan for the world.

When Jesus told the paralyzed man his sins were forgiven, He was acting not like an ignorant physician but like a skilled doctor who was not content to treat the man’s symptoms without dealing with their root cause. After that the impossible happened. The man picked up his mat and walked home, praising God!

Jesus, our great Physician, is still at work, forgiving our sins, healing our bodies, and restoring our souls. Take time today to align yourself with His healing work by repenting of your sins. Then pray for those in your family, your church, or your neighborhood who are ill. Ask God to deal with the deep cause of their suffering, whether rooted in their own sin or in the sinful nature of our fallen world. Ask Him to bring them complete healing—body, mind, and soul.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *