Scripture: Matthew 9:1-8
Key verse: (5) “For which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk?’”
Note: This is the first time in the Gospel that we see opposition to Jesus – an opposition that would only build throughout the course of his ministry.
Reflection: The healing stories of Jesus are fascinating. Today’s story is also found, in slightly different form, in the Gospels of Mark and Luke. In all three versions, people or friends are carrying a paralyzed man, who is lying on a bed, to Jesus for healing and Jesus said – “Your sins are forgiven” and the man got up and walked. Jesus didn’t say – “I heal your paralysis”. Why? Because in this story, forgiving sins was more important than healing. The man got up and walked without Jesus saying “I heal you.” This man wasn’t identified as a big sinner. There is no connection between sin and his paralysis because the story is symbolic, not allegorical. Its purpose is to highlight Jesus’ authority. Jesus called himself the Son of Man – the promised Messiah who had now arrived. It would be a misreading to equate the man’s paralysis with sin. Rather, the focus here is on Jesus’ authority to forgive. To be healed of a physical infirmity is miraculous, but to be forgiven our sins is the much greater gift contributing to our overall sense of well-being. God knows we need forgiveness. Jesus offered this forgiveness to the paralyzed man and he offers it to us. And, forgiveness heals in all kinds of ways.
Prayer: Merciful God, we give thanks that you forgive our sins – all the things that we know we have done and left undone. May each day be a new beginning, as we seek to live into your love and forgiveness. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Author: Deborah Conner
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].