Matthew 9:2-8 And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, "Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven." And some of the scribes said to themselves, "This fellow blasphemes." And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, "Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, and walk'? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"-then He *said to the paralytic, "Get up, pick up your bed and go home." And he got up and went home. But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.

This is a fascinating incident in Jesus' ministry! Both the paralyzed man and his friends had enormous faith just to come to Jesus. I have no question but that they came anticipating a healing of the paralysis. Jesus gave them more than expected which they likely regarded as less than expected. He assured the man he was forgiven. Forgiveness of sins is eternal. Ending paralysis is as temporary as life in this physical world.

The healing occurred as a result of the reaction of critics instead of the man's need. The critics said among themselves that Jesus had no right to forgive sins. How dare this human assume to do something only God did!

Jesus responded by asking which was easier: to forgive the man's sins or to heal his paralysis? To demonstrate he could do both, he healed the paralysis. Those who witnessed the event gave God the glory for giving such authority to men.

Ironically, we are more unlikely to question Jesus' power to forgive but question his power to do the incredible and unexpected. Ask a person if Jesus can forgive him/her, and the person likely will respond, "Certainly!" Ask the same person if Jesus has the power to change him as a person or her as a person, and the likely response will be, "I doubt it!" Thus Christians likely rely heavily on forgiveness and little on transformation. We desperately want forgiveness, but are hesitant to want change.

There is never a moment we do not need Jesus' forgiveness, but the objective of forgiveness is internal transformation (change) that ends external disobedience. Remember the sinful lady Jesus rescued (John 8:11)? "Go. From now on sin no more."

Every moment in a Christian's life he/she receives forgiveness. Yet, never forget God forgives us in the expectation that we will change.

Colossians 3:1-4 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 18 April 2004

 Link to next article

 Link to other Writings of David Chadwell