Read: Matthew 9:1-8
Take heart . . . your sins are forgiven. (v. 2)
Every time we recite the Apostles’ Creed we say, “I believe in . . . the forgiveness of sins.” But do we? Really? Most everyone thinks there are some sins that couldn’t and shouldn’t be forgiven (Human trafficking? Sexual abuse of children?). The idea that all sins can be forgiven is actually scandalous.
The scribes who witnessed Jesus’ healing of the paralytic were certainly scandalized. When Jesus told the man his sins were forgiven, they thought, “This is blasphemous! Only God can forgive sins.” And they were absolutely right. If you told me that you had committed some sin against your neighbor, and I said to you, “I forgive you,” the proper response would be, “Huh? Who do you think you are?” It looks here like Jesus thinks he’s God.
He asks a question: “Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?” (v. 5). It’s easier to say “You’re forgiven” because there’s no way of proving whether or not it’s true. But which of those things would be harder to do? In fact, it’s much easier to heal paralysis than it is to forgive sin. Jesus could heal the man just by telling him to get up. But to be able to forgive his sins Jesus would have to die on a cross.
Jesus really does have the authority to forgive, an authority he earned by paying sin’s penalty. The crippled man in Capernaum received a miraculous gift that day. He also got back the use of his legs. —David Bast
As you pray, give thanks that Jesus can, and will, forgive your sins.