March 2: Jesus' Power to Forgive (Matthew 9:1-8)
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. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. (ESV)
Jesus returns across the lake to Capernaum, his new home. While teaching, a paralytic is brought to him. Jesus does not immediately speak a word of healing but a word of grace, “Take heart my son, your sins are forgiven.” Jesus, looking at this man’s nonfunctioning legs, offers him pardon and forgiveness. Jesus sees past the immediate (and temporal) need to something deeper and more profound, the need to be reconciled with God. This declaration of forgiveness by Jesus puts him at odds with the religious leaders because only God can forgive sins. Yet Jesus proves his authority to forgive sins by healing the man from paralysis. He does the miracle “that can be seen to prove he did the miracle that could not be seen.” The paralytic got up, picked up his mat and went home, demonstrating the power of Jesus to reconcile us to God. Please take time to read though the passage and consider with joy the depth of grace that God has extended to you in forgiveness through faith in Jesus.
Review and Apply
- In what ways do you often consider the physical troubles of life to be of greater importance then the spiritual struggles?
- While not all sickness is tied directly to a specific sin, what is sickness an illustration of?
- Explain the relationship between faith in Jesus and healing. How did Jesus “see their faith”? How has he seen your faith?
- What does it prove about the human condition that Jesus would forgive his sins before healing his paralysis?
- If Jesus has forgiven us, why do the Scriptures call us to confess our sins (1 John 1.9)?
- What does it mean to practice repentance? Why is it necessary for the Christian to practice this throughout his life of faith?
- What happens to us when we fail to keep our consciences clear before God and man (Acts 24.16)?
- Why is the one who has been forgiven most likely to forgive? Is this true in your relationships?
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