Community of Friends

Psalm 25:1-10, Psalm 32, Matthew 9:2-13 (read online ⧉)

The story of the healed paralytic has been many times, mostly it seems, to point the finger at the scribes for their lack of faith. Let us look with grace upon the scribes, to their understanding and traditions, sins could not be forgiven without blood sacrifice. It was not that their faith was weak (or non-existent), but that their traditions and scriptural understanding did not match Jesus’ simple words.

For many of the Jewish religious leaders, part of their understanding was that the paralytic was bearing the curse of his sins, his parents’ sins, and/or some ancestor’s sins. In Psalm 32, the psalmist speaks of acknowledging his sins, but what if the sins the paralytic was bearing were not his own? What could he confess? What if it was some hidden sin of which he wasn’t aware? What could be his hope? His friends.

His friends mirror the great trust in God that we read in both of the Psalms. Their faith was the key. Did you catch that? The faith noted in Matthew 9:2-13 was that of the paralytic’s friends. In a shame-based culture, they could have been despised because they dared to be publicly seen with this…sinner. They were declaring their love of their friend to their village and to their religious leaders. They bravely, faithfully, and lovingly brought their friend to the prophet in expectation of a miracle.

They received two miracles, a spiritual cleansing, and the healing of their friend. The paralytic learned who his true friends were, and the power and love of God that changed his life!

We can reasonably expect God’s grace and mercy, not because we deserve it, but because that is a reflection of God being love.

We have to be humble and reflective as we approach the throne of God. When we do so we become ready to be guided and lead by the Creator.

1) Why do you think Matthew, Mark, and Luke made it a point that it was the faith of the paralytic’s friends that Jesus praised?

2) How does this recognition of their faith affect or challenge your perception or beliefs of what it means to be in a faith community?

3) How does our perception of our faith community affect our interactions within it, and how we welcome new people into it?