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.”
(Matthew 9:1-2 ESV)
Matthew’s gospel is all about identifying Jesus as the Messiah. To that end he records stories of Jesus’ life which fulfill prophecies made by Old Testament prophets. One of those prophecies was made by Isaiah in which he stated that the Messiah would heal people of their diseases (which we’ve seen Jesus do) and would also cause the “lame to leap like a deer” [Isaiah 35:5-6]. We see the fulfillment of this in today’s passage.
Mark and Luke’s gospels give more details about the events we read today [Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26]. From these accounts we see that a paralytic was brought to Jesus through a lot of effort of some of his friends.
These men never said a word to Jesus. Jesus simply saw their faith. Notice that it was the friends who had the faith, not the paralyzed man because Jesus tells the man to “take heart, my son“. The Greek word translated “take heart” indicates this man was in complete despair. He may have allowed himself to be carried to Jesus begrudgingly. At the very least, he was skeptical that he could be cured.
Nevertheless, Jesus offered this man what he needed most – forgiveness of his sins. The friends had been seeking a physical cure, not a spiritual one. Obviously it is terrible to be paralyzed. But it is even worse to die in our sin. Forgiveness is more important than physical healing.
Not to be overlooked is the fact that Jesus calls this man “son“. Many people mistakenly believe that all people are God’s children. Not so. It is only when a person’s sins are forgiven that a person becomes a son or daughter of God. Jesus, who was God, forgave this man’s sins and immediately he became part of God’s family through faith [John 1:12].
Isn’t the Bible amazing? Every word, no matter how small, tells us something. Not to mention the amazing consistency of what the Bible tells us. Critics claim the Bible contradicts itself. Nowhere does it do that. When one reads the Bible carefully – which is how it should be read – we see that all the authors are saying exactly the same thing. Their words validate each other. Here we see that Matthew’s text and John’s text align perfectly.
This paralyzed man may not have had much faith, as we saw. But He had enough. And he was rewarded for it and will be in heaven. We should also notice the fact that this man had godly friends. Even though he may have doubted, it is clear from the actions of his friends that they did not. Their faith led this man to Christ, both physically and spiritually.
Godly friends are important. It’s important to have them. It’s important to be one. Godly friends lift each other up. They keep each other focused on Christ, not our problems.
Most importantly, godly people never give up on their unsaved friends. The faith of a godly person can save someone they love from their sins.
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