Read Matt 9:1–17
Mat 9:2-7 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. ..12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. (13) Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The Gospel of Matthew is about authority, more specifically what kind of authority does Jesus have and where did it come from. In today’s lesson we see Jesus has authority to forgive sins. A paralytic was brought to Jesus. You would think in the normal course of circumstances that a healer would lay his hands on the man and heal him so he can walk. But Jesus knows what the man needs more than healing of the body is a healing of the soul. This is true for all of us. Particularly in Jesus’ day people believed if you had bad things happening to you, then you must have committed some sin to deserve that suffering. Seems they never learned the lesson from Job. It is true that all suffering comes from sin, sin in us, sin in the world and sins we commit. But our individual sufferings are not caused for the most part by any particular sin but our sinful condition. We need to hear we are forgiven, that God is not angry with us, and that he loves us.
So Jesus tells the man that he is forgiven. Many wonder, how can he have such authority to forgive sins? That is God’s prerogative! So Jesus tests them. Which is easier to say someone is forgiven or to actually heal someone who is paralyzed? Well anyone can say someone is forgiven, there needs no proof that it happened. You can’t see someone is forgiven. So Jesus tells the man to get up and walk and the man does. It showed them and us that Jesus has authority to forgive sins.
On top of this, Jesus teaches us that he desires mercy and not sacrifice. That is to say he wants us to perform acts of mercy on our fellow man, especially the downtrodden more than any other good works we may do. We may want to feed the poor, hand out blankets, and any other good work you think we ought to be doing as a good work, do these sacrifices we will. Jesus though needs or wants us to be merciful. To share the good news of the free forgiveness he won for us and all men everywhere by his sacrifice on the cross. And he wants us to forgive those persons who sinned against us. Then we can offer up sacrifices of thanksgiving to God.
Lord God, heavenly Father, grant us faith in the good news of the free gift of forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name and may we forgive those who have sinned against us. Embolden us to tell others who are suffering of this free gift of forgiveness that they may know your love as well. In Jesus’ name. Amen.