A Devotional Reflection on Matthew 9:1–8
Over the course of several weeks, I’m posting a series of devotional reflections for children on Matthew 8–9. This is the seventh devotional. Here are links to the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth devotionals. One more is coming. These are free for your use with your church or family.
If you loan someone ten dollars and then forgive that debt, who bears the cost? You do. Justice would demand that the loan be repaid. But forgiveness offers to swallow the debt and absorb the cost for the other person.
We know that there are times when justice should be demanded. When someone has wronged your friend Andy, he might choose to forgive and not seek restitution. But as Andy’s friend, you can seek justice for his sake. Moreover, if a person has harmed or abused you, you should seek justice—not for the sake of personal vengeance but in order to protect others.
So, what happens when someone offends God? What happens when they owe him a debt? Who can forgive then? Here is the good news: When we encounter Jesus, we find the friend who forgives.
Read Matthew 9:1–8
After healing the two demon-possessed men, Jesus got into a boat and crossed over and to his own town (Matt. 9:1). This wasn’t his hometown of Nazareth but rather Capernaum, the town which Jesus and his disciples were using as their base for ministry.
Crowds gathered around Jesus as he taught in a local home (Luke 5:17). While he spoke, some men arrived, carrying their paralyzed friend on a man. When they couldn’t move through the crowd, the friends made a hole in the roof and lowered their friend through, placing him at Jesus’s feet (Matt. 9:2a; Luke 5:18). When Jesus saw the friends’ faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven” (Matt. 9:2b).
At that moment, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!” (Matt. 9:3). These teachers knew that only God can grant forgiveness to those who have offended him. “How could Jesus offer forgiveness to someone who hadn’t come to the Temple to offer a sacrifice for their sins? Jesus must be claiming to be God!” they thought. “How can he claim to be something he’s not?”
Jesus answered, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts?” Then he posed a question: “Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?” (Matt. 9:4–5). Both were impossible for anyone except God!
Then Jesus said, “I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home” (Matt. 9:6). 7 Then the man got up and went home. 8 When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.
Think, Pray, and Apply
Take a few minutes with your family to talk and reflect on the Bible passage:
What is forgiveness? And what makes it necessary?
What makes someone a good friend? Can you tell a story about a time when someone has been a great friend to you?
Why is Jesus the best possible friend for sinners?
When the people saw that Jesus had the authority to forgive sin, they were amazed and glorified God? Do you tend to think about forgiveness as amazing? Why or why not?
Gospel-Centered Family’s mission is to help parents and church leaders share Jesus with the next generation. Below you’ll find a link to Keeping Your Children’s Ministry on Mission, my forthcoming book on children’s ministry from Crossway, as well as information about our student ministry leadership cohort.
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When building a children’s ministry at a church, there is so much to consider: Which curriculum should we use? How many volunteers do we need? How do we keep parents in the loop? And that’s before we run into stalled check-in computers, missing activity sheets, and floors that need to be vacuumed. While all of the tasks of children’s ministry are important, leaders can get easily distracted with the everyday work of doing ministry and lose sight of the main focus—the gospel.
In Keeping Your Children’s Ministry on Mission, I share a four-fold approach for gospel-centered, missional children’s ministry: hospitality, teaching, discipleship, and mission. The book covers a variety of topics ranging from creating child protection policies to putting together lesson plans to catechism. My prayer is that it will be helpful for children’s ministers and volunteers alike as they disciple children with the powerful message of the gospel. The book releases in March 2022. You can pre-order now from Crossway.
Join Zach Cochran, Kendal Conner, and John Williams for a unique development opportunity this fall. You will learn a gospel-centered philosophy for student discipleship that will help you to strategically lead students and families with awareness and courage.
This cohort will help you to think about youth culture and your local church context. You’ll also learn how to plan events, create a student ministry handbook, how to care for your own soul while in ministry, and how to care for students and parents in crisis.
We’ve extended the registration deadline for the Fall cohort. There are still several spots avialable. Follow this link for more information and to sign up. Cohort video calls will take place on Thursday afternoons at 2:30 pm ET / 11:30 am PT beginning on Thursday, September 9.