Daily Devotion for October 1, 2013
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
This rendition of the tuneful Swing Down Chariot, with its locomotive rhythm, will put some steam in your engine!
Prayer to Change to Better Serve God
Holy God, I believe that you will change people and many things, if asked and if it is your will. Change me Lord, if it is your will, for I would lead a better life. Touch me, I pray, great God whose touch transforms. Reach out your mighty hand to me, and to all who seek you in the name of your Son. Heal us, transform us, and make us whole; reach out your mighty hand to lift us up to serve you; touch me and all of us this very day, O Lord, that our own hands may bring your hope and healing to this broken world.
Prayer for Grace and Strength
Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit. Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties, and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Community of Prayer
I pray to you, dearest Jesus, for all the graces I need to know you, to love you and serve you faithfully unto death, and to save my soul. Give me a tender and fervent devotion to your sacred passion by which I was redeemed, venerating you each day in prayer; and teach me how to unite sorrows and sufferings of my life with your own.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Psalm 92:1-4 (ESV)
It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.
Matthew 9:1-8 (ESV)
Jesus Heals a Paralytic
And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”
And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.”
But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he then said to the paralytic — “Rise, pick up your bed and go home.”
And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.
Notes on the Scripture
In Chapter 8, Matthew turned from the extensive teaching of Chapters 5 - 7 and followed Christ as he began to travel and perform miracles of healing. In Chapter 9, he concentrates on the budding opposition to Christ; as he began to attract followers, he began to raise the hackles of those who considered themselves the religious authorities. He impinged on their turf, and the Jewish authorities were jealous, and began to criticize him and accuse him.
The first accusation is blasphemy. And, really, one cannot ascribe their motives completely to jealousy; unless one believed in him, Christ's actions were an affront to Judaism. His teaching was based on his own authority. This was simply not done by Jewish rabbis. When a rabbi spoke with authority, he either cited a book — the Torah or some learned writing — or another, older rabbi. But Jesus did not do this; he taught things that had never been taught before, that it, on his own authority — directly from God.
There was certainly precedent for this: Judaism recognized the prophets of old, who taught by direct authority. No major Jewish prophet, such that his prophecy was written into a book, had existed since Zechariah and Malachi 400 years earlier; but at least, prophecy was part of the Jewish tradition.
Now, however, Jesus goes much further; he forgives sin, by his own authority, something that no prophet had ever done; it was an act reserved for God alone.
To understand this lesson fully, one must understand Jewish attitudes towards sickness; like Christian Scientists 2,000 years later, they did not understand that illness has a physical basis and believed sickness was caused directly and solely by sin. The ancient Palestinian scholar Rabbi Chija ben Abba said, “No sick person is cured from sickness until all his sins have been forgiven him.”
When Christ cures the paralytic, then, it is proof (as far as the Jews are concerned) that the man's sins had been cleansed. But the man had not gone through any of the extensive Judaic rituals necessary to cleanse a man: no sacrifice of animals or food, no period of enclosure, no washing, etc.
We see in this passage a theme that comes out most strongly in the Gospel of John. Jesus did not perform miracles as magic tricks or even out of pity. Clearly, God will allow even the most faithful to suffer illness and death of the body. Rather, Christ performs these miracles as signs, to show that he is who he says he is, the Son of God. And even more, when he defeats death by his resurrection, they will become signs that he has the power to fulfill his promise: we will all be healed through his sacrifice. When our bodies die, our sins will be forgiven, and like the paralyzed man, the faults of our bodies, as well as our souls, will be made perfect.