A Greater Feat
Pastor John Sloan
Introduction: Imagine how you’d feel if you went to the doctor’s office for a severely sprained ankle and he (or she) said to you, with no explanation, “I’m giving you some beta blockers to slow down your cardiac output and some anticoagulants to thin your blood.” You might reply: “But aren’t those medications for my heart?” How would you feel if the doctor then replied, “Your ankle will be fine; I’m addressing your greatest need”? In Matthew 9, four men bring to Jesus their paralyzed friend and Jesus says, inexplicably, “Your sins are forgiven”—which prompts a very interesting exchange.
Questions for Discussion & Discovery
1. What sort of faith does Jesus see in the “people who brought to him a paralytic” (verse 2)?
2. Why are the religious leaders so incensed? On what basis do they accuse Jesus of “blaspheming” (verse 3)?
3. Philosophers and psychologists contend that desire is stronger than satisfaction. What is it that you have been seeking after more than anything else? How would your life change if you got it? What would still be the same?
4. Theologian and author, John Piper, has said, “The single greatest need in the universe is the need for the forgiveness of sins.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
5. What are some offenses for which you have received the forgiveness of God in Christ recently? How have you experienced freedom and joy as a result?
6. Are there people in your life that you’re struggling to forgive? In light of the forgiveness you’ve received, how will you, in the Spirit’s power, endeavor to forgive?
1. Read Matthew 9:1-8.
2. “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart my son, your sins are forgiven.’” – Matthew 9:2
3. 01. True faith is an active trust that Jesus is sufficient for our deepest and most heartfelt needs.
4. “God … richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” – 1 Timothy 6:17
5. 02. There will always be obstacles to faith, but real faith fights through the roadblocks.
“Sometimes a door is open, sometimes the door is closed, and sometimes we have to tear the door off its hinges, whether by ourselves or with friends. The story of the paralytic shows that if a door is blocked, someone may need to tear a hole in the roof. We must persevere if we believe Jesus has the very power of God to heal.” – Daniel Doriani
7. Read Matthew 9:3-5.
8. 03. Jesus heals from the inside out, which is far more miraculous than restoring physical wellness.
9. “All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.” – Westminster Shorter Confession
10. “Life is a web of trials and temptations but only one of them can ever be fatal: the temptation to think that it is by further, better and more aggressive living that we can have life.” – Robert Capon
11. “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” – Colossians 2:13-14