Sermon: Holy Wholly, Healed and Still Healing
Matthew 9: 1-8
And after getting into a boat he crossed the sea and came to his own town. And just then some people were carrying a paralyzed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Then some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Stand up, take your bed and go to your home.” And he stood up and went to his home. When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings.
Matthew 10: 1-8
Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.
I have chosen to use both scripture readings because we have come to the end of our Lenten series “Holy Vessels” and this is Palm Sunday the beginning of Holy Week. Matthew’s writings are concerned with the merging of beliefs and actions, forgiveness and transformation, and community. We have two parades of sorts. One is someone being carried on a stretcher and the other man is riding on a donkey. Both men could be considered “weak” and yet we learn there is much strength here. And there is much courage.
Our paralytic’s faith believes Jesus can heal him. His faith is something Jesus “sees.” There are three things we can learn about faith from the healing of the paralytic. First, Jesus’ healings involved words and/or actions. In healing the paralytic Jesus uses only words. Thus faith can be expressed in words or actions. Second, faith can be seen in our desire for healing and in our desire to help others. There are many ways to express faith. Lastly, we look at Jesus’ ability to “see” faith. Wilson writes that this is because of the integration of how we feel and act. He writes, ”This emphasis on the integrated nature of faith (i.e. faith integrates internal disposition with external action) also draws attention to the nature of Jesus’ ability to ‘see’ such faith.” (pg. 144). Simply put, how we act is an outward visible expression of our faith.
In the paralytic’s story, Matthew introduces the theme of sin into the healing narrative.
Jesus can heal us from physical ailment as well as heal us from sin. There is nothing we can do or say in the realm of humanity, that is beyond the saving grace of Jesus. This is also the story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, heading toward death on the cross. There is nothing, even death, that keeps us from God’s love.
The crowd in the healing narratives always respond to Jesus. And we too are called to respond, to shout our Hosannas and testify to the power of God. We are called to a life of faith and action.
The commission in chapter 10, Wilson points out, is not immediately heeded, rather this seems to have been instructions for them for what to do after Jesus was gone. These instructions show us exactly what we are to do as an Easter people. Make life and lots of it. Call out dis-ease and surrounds it with caring compassion, remedy.
The instructions from Jesus do not stop there. Indeed, everything he asks of his disciples that last week, was about becoming the healers…take the lower seat, wash feet, break bread with friends and traitors alike, show radical hospitality, stay and pray with those who are suffering, do not answer violence with violence, take care of each other, know that resurrections is coming.
This past year has been difficult with this virus that just keeps on going. We are at a place in our faith journey where we need to be open to what our new normal will be for our church. We must move from healing and wholeness to ministry and testimony. As we move through Holy Week, we must continue on our journey of healing through Christ our Savior and then into Easter, a time to proclaim who God is and what God has done for us! Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna!