Peace in the conscience

Jesus heals a paralytic

Matthew 9:1–8

The authority of Jesus

And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. 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.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 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.” 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

Sunlight streams through a hole in a roof.

Things are getting stressful for Jesus. On one side of the lake, there are people who don’t want him to leave, on the other the crowds don’t want him to stay. So it’s back to his own side of the lake, and the crowds are even worse, not everybody who wants to hear Jesus can get close.

Palsy is a gradual paralysis, anyone with this condition can do nothing for themselves, but fortunately, this man has friends, good friends who will stop at nothing to get him to Jesus, even if it means committing acts of wanton vandalism. Not many of us have friends as good as that.

Jesus ignores the vandalism and looks at the paralysed man.

An aside: 

Jesus was in a position to know about rooves, where it says he was a carpenter in English translations the Greek word is tektron, which is the type of carpenter that worked on buildings, which would have included rooves. Jesus could have looked at the hole, taken a sharp intake of breath and said, “That’ll cost a few thousand shekels.” But he didn’t.

Now, where was I?

Jesus ignores the vandalism and looks at the paralysed man.

Jesus says, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” This is frightening. We may not realise it, as we are used to the story, but this is the third of three acts that Jesus does here in Matthew’s Gospel that is frightening. The first is that he calms a violent storm showing power over the power of nature. Secondly, he cast out a large number of demons from two possessed men showing power over evil: So frightening is this that he is asked to leave. Most frightening of all is he says, “Your sins are forgiven.” Frightening that only the High Priest can say this, it involves the sacrifice of a goat and sending another out into the wilderness as a sign of sins being taken away and it is temporary—it needs repeating every year.

Jesus is claiming authority here greater than that of a high priest. No goats were harmed in the declaration of Jesus forgiveness. The prophet Isaiah said,  “There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.” — Isaiah 57:21. Jesus deals with the root of the problem first. All three of the dramatic miracles in Matthew 8:23–9:8 are about bringing peace: Peace to his disciples in a storm, peace to a city tormented by demon-possessed men (even though it was rejected) and now, peace of mind to a tormented man.  The healing in this latter case is secondary, it is forgiveness that this man needed to bring peace of mind. Jesus then heals him to show he has the authority to forgive.

There is no connection made here between sickness and sin. It does not say that this man’s sickness was caused by sin, what it does show is Jesus dealing with this man’s greater need first.

Jesus’ power and authority have been dramatically shown here, over the power of nature, over the power of evil and power over sin, the power to forgive. Come to Jesus and receive his forgiveness, his peace.


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