One day Jesus was teaching and many Pharisees and teachers of the Law had come from every part of Galilee and Judea and even from Jerusalem. They were sitting there while the power of the Lord was at work to heal the sick. Then some men brought a paralyzed man who lay on his mat. They tried to enter the house to place him before Jesus, but they couldn’t find a way through the crowd. So they went up on the roof and, removing the tiles, they lowered him on his mat into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “My friend, your sins are forgiven.” At once the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees began to wonder, “This man insults God! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
But Jesus knew their thoughts and asked them, “Why are you reacting like this? Which is easier to say: ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or: ‘Get up and walk’? Now you shall know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” And Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” At once the man stood before them. He took up the mat he had been lying on and went home praising God. Amazement seized the people and they praised God. They were filled with a holy fear and said, “What wonderful things we have seen today!”
Who are the different persons and attitudes in this lovely scene?
First, the paralyzed and his helpers, and we stress here their faith; second is Jesus and his words and deeds; here we stress his power to forgive sins and to heal sick; third is the reaction of the teachers of Law and the Pharisees who accuse Jesus of blasphemy. The framework is the crowd, filled with holy fear.
We admire the faith of this team accompanying the paralyzed and removing the tiles from the roof. We understand the correct suspicion of the learned Jews: only God can forgive sins. But follow the great lesson of the Lord. He begins with the spiritual cure, i.e., the forgiveness of sins. He accepts the objection of Scribes and Pharisees, but puts forth an evident question about feasibility: pardon is invisible, while healing is visible.
The final lesson is clear: the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. He is not blaspheming. He is among us to reconcile sinners with God in the name of God the Father and in his own authority as his Son, and miracles are only signs of it.
Are we encouraged in our faith in Jesus upon hearing this word of God?
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