Apologetics, Biblical Doctrines, Christian Living, Culture & Society, Salvation & Justification, Sin & Repentance, Theology

A Good Reason to be Happy

AN EXPOSITION OF MATTHEW 9:1-8

     1 And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city.

When Jesus came to His own city, He came to Capernaum. Bethlehem bore Jesus. Nazareth nurtured Him. Capernaum, on the Sea of Galilee, was glorified by Him as a continuous inhabitant. In Capernaum Jesus performed a mighty miracle which is recorded three times in Scripture.

     2 And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.

Five Solid Reasons to be of Good Cheer

Matthew 9:2 Sins are forgiven.

Matthew 9:22      Faith can make a person whole.

Matthew 14:27    Jesus is near.

John 16:33           Christ has overcome the world.

Acts 23:11            There are opportunities to witness for Christ.

Acts 27:22, 25      There is divine intervention in the storms of life.

There are many unsung heroes of the Church. There are men and women who go about doing good, and yet they are not recognized. Such are those who brought to Jesus a man sick of the palsy. Their names are not recorded in time, but for all eternity they will be gratefully known to the sick man whom they brought to Jesus for healing.

Now the Bible does not tell people how to bring others to Christ. There are no set formulas, or rigid techniques that must be used. In fact, some evangelistic techniques prove to be harmful. What is important is that people follow their hearts, and the leading of the Spirit, and move individuals to see Jesus. “If conventionality does not succeed, then try originality” (William Graham Scroggy, 1877-1958). The friends of this man were very original because they carried the man to the top of the house, took up the house tiling, and lowered the man down through the roof (Luke 5:19).

When the sick man was first brought to Jesus, we notice that the Lord gave him something before anything was asked. Oh, how good and gracious God is. While we often have not because we ask not (James 4:2), sometimes we have despite not having asked. Such is the heart of Jesus. He gives, and gives some more. Jesus not only gave the man physical healing, but spiritual healing as well.

Such grace was necessary because the paralytic was helpless and hopeless in his natural condition. That is an accurate picture of every sinner who is born physically alive but spiritually dead before God. Grace must come to those who are totally helpless in bondage to sin. Man is not able to heal himself, or to save himself. But in the omnipotence of Jesus there is power to heal physically and to forgive sins. It is impossible for man to come to God by himself, which is why Paul writes, “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).

     3 And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.

 In the act of acclamation, there came opposition. There is an old adage which states, “No Good Deed Shall Go Unpunished.” In Capernaum, Jesus performed many good deeds, and for that He would be punished by self-righteous and legalistic men who thought they saw something wrong with the words of Jesus, for He said to the sick of the palsy, “Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” Immediately the scribes thought within themselves, “This man blasphemeth.”

Blasphemy would be one of the formal charges brought against Jesus when the time came for Him to be arrested and begin His journey to Golgotha. Caiaphas the High Priest would one day raise his voice against Jesus and say, “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus said unto him, ‘Thou hast said” (Matt. 26:63-64a).

From the outset of the ministry of Jesus, certain scribes were opposed to Him. The dark thoughts began when jealous religious leaders saw the miracles Jesus performed. It took time, but certain scribes would have a chance to try to convince others, openly and with passion, that Jesus was a blasphemer.

     4 And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?

 It is instructive to note that Jesus called the thoughts in the hearts of the scribes and Pharisees evil. Their thoughts were not theologically wrong when they reasoned that only God can forgive sins. That is true. No priest can forgive sins. No nun can forgive sins. No man can forgive sins. Only God can forgive sins. Why then were the thoughts of the religious leaders evil? The answer is this. The religious leaders did not know that Immanuel was standing before them. In their ignorance they stripped Jesus of His divinity, His glory, and His majesty. That is an evil thing to do.

     5 For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?

As far as words are concerned, saying, “Thy sins be forgiven thee,” is easier to say. As far as the reality of forgiving sins, or telling a crippled man to walk, both are equally challenging. Both require an act of almighty God. Jesus would do both. In the physical world, Jesus would tell the man to rise and walk thereby proving, in the spiritual sphere, He also has the power on earth to forgive sins.

     6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.

As important as physical healing is, of greater importance is the need to have sin forgiven. As the Son of Man, Jesus has power to forgive sin, and remove the shame, guilt, and condemnation that sin brings to the soul.

Jesus uses His power sovereignly, and judiciously. He exercises discretion and discernment. We do not read that Jesus offered forgiveness of sin to the scribes, but he did give it to the man sick of the palsy. Elsewhere, the Lord would explain His thinking. “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31, 32). In their own minds, the scribes were righteous, and did not need to be forgiven. And if they did feel a need to seek forgiveness, they would not seek it in Jesus, for they had no faith in His power to forgive.

     7 And he arose, and departed to his house.

When the man heard the words of Jesus, he immediately obeyed. He arose, took up the bed that carried him, and went home to his house. The former paralytic became a living testimony of the healing grace, and the healing mercy of God. Perhaps he danced a jig on the way home. Perhaps he shouted with joy and happiness. Perhaps he quoted the Psalmist saying, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me; bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul; and forget not all his benefits. Bless the Lord, who forgiveth all thine iniquities who healeth all diseases” (Psalm 103:2, 3).

     8 But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.

While the scribes and Pharisees rejected the majesty of Jesus, and denounced His miracle working power, the multitudes did not. The people “marveled, and glorified God, which had given power unto men.”

From this story, one of the most important lessons to be learned, is that the greatest act of love a person can do is bring others to Jesus. The greatest act of love that one friend can show to another, is to bring that person to Jesus. The greatest thing a wife can do for her husband is to bring him to Christ. The greatest act of love a father can do for his children, is to bring them to Jesus. “And of some have compassion, making a difference” (Jude 1:22).

Another lesson to learn is that Jesus honors faith. It was by faith the friends of the paralytic brought him to the Lord Jesus, and their faith was honored. Others are blessed by those who have faith in Jesus. There is the principle of blessing by association.

While the paralytic was blessed by the faith of others, he was not saved by the faith of others. No one has ever been saved because someone else believed in Jesus. Salvation is more personal. A person must believe in the Lord in their heart. The good news is the paralytic also had faith in Jesus, for the text says when the Lord saw their faith, the faith of those who carried the paralytic, and the faith of the paralytic being carried, Jesus spoke wonderful words of life. “Your sins are forgiven you.”

“Sing them over again to me,
wonderful words of life;
let me more of their beauty see,
wonderful words of life;
words of life and beauty,
teach me faith and duty:

Beautiful words, wonderful words,
wonderful words of life;
Beautiful words, wonderful words,
wonderful words of life.

Christ, the blessed One, gives to all
wonderful words of life;
sinner, list to the loving call,
wonderful words of life;
all so freely given,
wooing us to heaven.

Sweetly echo the gospel call,
wonderful words of life;
offer pardon and peace to all,
wonderful words of life;
Jesus, only Savior,
sanctify forever.”

Phillip P. Bliss

A concluding lesson from this section is the dilemma posed to the unbeliever. Either Jesus is a blasphemer, or He is very God with power to heal the body and forgive sins. May God bring you to see Jesus as Who He is, the Son of the Living God, the lover of souls, and the Forgiver of sins.

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