Pick Up Your Mat

By Chuck Griffin
LifeTalk Editor

Matthew 9:2-8 (NLT)

Some people brought to him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven.”

But some of the teachers of religious law said to themselves, “That’s blasphemy! Does he think he’s God?”

Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you have such evil thoughts in your hearts? Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”

And the man jumped up and went home! Fear swept through the crowd as they saw this happen. And they praised God for giving humans such authority.


If you’re a Christian, you already accept what the religious leaders in this story could not: Jesus is divine, God in flesh. He has the authority to forgive sins.

We see God’s love shown in two different ways here. The man brought to Jesus is paralyzed. His physical impediment has caused his friends to carry him before Jesus, known mostly at this point as a healer and a prophet. But Jesus doesn’t heal him right away, probably to trigger the religious leaders’ indignation and set up a powerful revelatory moment about who Jesus is.

“Your sins are forgiven.” If these words truly have meaning, how powerful they are! Regardless of our worldly circumstances, regardless of what we may suffer in this life, they are the most powerful words we will ever hear.

And we do hear them still today. Lord willing, we will have communion at Holston View UMC this Sunday. Because of Covid-19, we will handle communion differently, but we will engage with God in this sacrament of cleansing and forgiveness.

Following the liturgy’s call to reflection and confession, I will have the tremendous privilege of saying, “Hear the good news: Christ died for us while we were yet sinners; that proves God’s love toward us. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!”

Acknowledging that I am just as much in need of forgiveness, those present will respond, “In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven.”

Beyond that moment, we will be wise to watch for signs of God’s power at work in our lives, in particular evidence of healing. In the Bible story, as a sign of God’s presence in Jesus, the paralyzed man is able to pick up his mat and walk.

Perhaps we too will see physical healing—if we do, we should declare to others what we have seen. Miraculous healings continue to happen to encourage a world needing to know God is present.

More importantly, there will be spiritual healing. The sins that burden us will be shaken off. We can pick up our lives as people who walk fearlessly with God, thanks be to Jesus Christ!

Lord, we are so grateful that Jesus came among us filled with your power and Spirit, and that your Holy Spirit remains among us today. Amen.


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