Matt. 9:1-8 – Jesus Heals & Forgives Sin
Some men bring a friend to Jesus in order that their friend might be healed by him. I’ve read the story dozens of times. I usually jump on the part where Jesus shows off the “teachers of the law” for who they are and at the same time reveals who he really is. But, as usual, there is much more going on here. First, Jesus recognizes “their” faith, that is, the faith of the paralytic AND his friends and turns to the paralytic reassuring him (and them) that their faith and confidence has not been in vain. Again, where before I just saw this poor guy in need of healing, I now see the group of friends, circled about him, who are hopeful with him to see their friend walk again. Jesus recognizes this.
In that he addresses the man’s spiritual state before his physical condition, may be mostly for the benefit of those whom he knew would find fault with his comment. In a sense, he ties the two together, that both acts, forgiving a man his sins and healing him, are things that he, the Son of Man, has been given authority to do. Amazing. Interestingly, according to Matthew, the people are amazed that such authority has been given to “men.” Are they mistaken to imply that this power has just been given to mere men, or is this a recognition that Jesus’ disciples will eventually continue working as he worked, spreading the gospel, forgiving sins and healing all of faith? If anything, this sets apart Jesus’ ministry, in that it’s not just about “doing better.” There is real power here, power to do the one thing that we need and cannot do for ourselves, to reconciled with our creator and then live the life He’s called us to. It begins with the faith of the small group of friends and continues with the word and power and example of the Master. JBB