WHO CAN FORGIVE?
“Search me God, and know my heart… See if there is any of-fensive way in me, and lead me…” (Psa. 139:23a,24a).
Read Matthew 9:1–8
Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2 Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
3 At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!”
4 Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 6 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” 7 Then the man got up and went home. 8 When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.
New International Version (NIV)
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ReflectHas something bad ever happened to you through no fault of your own?
There was a prevailing belief in Jesus’ time that illness or disaster was a consequence of individual or communal sin (cf. John 9:2; Luke 13:2–4). Perhaps this was in the men’s minds as they brought their friend to Jesus. Perhaps the man himself thought that his sin was responsible for his situation. Whatever the problem, whatever the cause, the men believed that Jesus could sort it out. Who would you bring to Jesus today? What do you want Jesus to do for them?
Jesus doesn’t confirm the association of illness with sin, but he responds to faith in him and speaks to the paralyzed man’s inner fear (2), then confirms and demonstrates his power to deal with illness and sin (5,6).
Jesus’ authority to forgive sin is the crunch issue here. The teachers of the Law knew that God alone could forgive sin (hence the blasphemy claim). What a tragedy that experts of the Scriptures failed to recognize the Messianic signs of Jesus’ ministry, so instead of bowing before the Son of God, they stood in judgment on him (4)! The crowd’s reaction is the right one (8). Jesus’ authority and willingness to forgive sin should fill our hearts with awe and our lives with praise.
Hear Jesus’ word to you: “Take heart, son/daughter, your sins are forgiven.” Allow the power of Christ’s forgiveness to set you free to forgive yourself and others.
Loving Father, I thank You for Your incredible, life-changing forgiveness. You are so good to me.