The rest of this week we will be looking at the entirety of Matthew chapter nine, for it leads us to the very important subject about the harvest. However, as we shall observe, the compassion of Christ is sown throughout the text. Today’s portion gives the account of Jesus healing a paralytic right before he calls Matthew to come follow him.
9 And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. 2 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.” 3 And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 6 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.” 7 And he rose and went home. 8 When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. (Matthew 9: 1-8)
Here, we find that Matthew reports Jesus exercise of authority and his compassion to heal. Jesus’ claim to have authority to forgive sins was validated by the healing of the paralytic, but also by the surrounding context of the series of miracles recorded in Matthew 8–9. All three Gospel writers recording this event note that Jesus saw their faith—not just the faith of the paralytic but the faith of the man’s friends. This is significant today. We sometimes forget that our faith or lack of faith has an impact upon the lives of others.
Jesus did not say, “Your sins will be forgiven” (future tense), which would amount only to an exhortation of hope, looking ahead to God’s future forgiveness. Nor did he say, “Your sins have been forgiven” (past tense), separating the forgiveness from this encounter. Jesus confidently used the present tense, your sins are forgiven. Jesus was boldly proclaiming his word as the means of forgiveness. This was an incredible claim to deity.
Having confronted their obstinate disbelief, Jesus prepared them for proof that he had authority to forgive sins and to heal paralysis. Neither spiritual healing nor physical healing is “easier” than the other. But physical healing is easier to authenticate than spiritual healing, because physical healing happens in the visible realm. Spiritual healing occurs in the invisible spirit realm. If Jesus could prove he had authority to heal physically, he could also prove that he had authority to heal spiritually—to forgive sins.
9:6–7. Jesus put this reasoning into words: But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. He proceeded, with the authority of his word, to reveal a visible truth—that he was able to heal the man’s paralysis.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the power you have to forgive us of all of our sins and to heal our illnesses. Thank you for being a compassionate God who cares for every aspect of our lives; the physical, emotional and spiritual. We bring our friends and ourselves to you today, knowing that we need your ministry in body, mind and spirit. AMEN