Jesus demonstrates that he has authority from God to forgive sins by calling upon the power of God to heal the paralytic. In addition to the faith of the paralytic, the miracles support our faith by demonstrating that God has given Jesus authority.
In chapters 8-9, Matthew presents a series of miracles which establish the God-given authority of Jesus. We see faith before the miracle happens in the person seeking Jesus. After the miracle, others are called to recognize the authority of Jesus and respond with faith. In the healing of the paralytic, we see both these themes of faith: the faith of the person healed and the evidentiary power of the the miracle.
1And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. 2And 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.” 3And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 6But 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.” 7And he rose and went home. 8When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. – Matthew 9:1-8
- Matthew omits many details we find in Mark 2:1-12 and Luke 5:17-26.
- Mark and Luke place this event earlier in the ministry of Jesus. Matthew is more concerned with the themes he’s developing than in putting events in chronological order.
- Capernaum is Jesus’ home during the early part of his ministry.
- Scribes were Pharisees who specialized in teaching the law.
- Mark tells us the men broke a hole in the roof to bring the paralytic to Jesus.
- Why is this such an emergency that they can’t wait for Jesus to finish teaching? The crisis was not physical (paralysis doesn’t change); the crisis was spiritual.
- Jesus reacts to the faith of the paralyzed man and his friends, not the hole in his roof.
- Even if this man came primarily for physical healing, Jesus speaks to the really important issue first: his faith.
- The scribes knew how forgiveness is gained. It required a sacrifice in the temple by a priest and obedience to the law. It could not be gained without a word or action in the home of a carpenter from Galilee. The scribes knew how, when and under what circumstances forgiveness would be meted out and this is not it!
- Their charge of blasphemy is orthodox; only God can forgive sins. Jesus couldn’t have the authority to forgive sins because he’s not forgiving sins the way the scribes know God forgives them
- Jesus responds: I have the authority to forgive your sins, and I have the authority to call upon the power of God to heal your physical body so that you can get up and walk. But one describes an invisible reality.
- Jesus’s question is one of logic: “If I can do the more difficult, external, visible reality, isn’t it likely that I can also do the invisible reality?”
- “Son of Man” was a popular title applied by the 1st century Jews to Israel’s Messiah.
- Yet he acts with the authority of God to bring healing and forgiveness, demonstrating he also has the authority of God to forgive sins.
Please listen to the podcast for more detail and explanation.
Previous: 46 Matthew 8:28-34 Demons & Pigs
Podcast season 20, episode 6