"Your Sins Are Forgiven"

In Matthew 9, when friends bring a paralyzed man to Jesus, he looks at him and says, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”

Think about that. He looks at a man who can’t walk, and talks about sin and forgiveness. What he saying, in other words, is this: Your biggest problem isn’t that you’ve been lying on that mat for years, it’s that you’ve sinned against God. But take heart! God has forgiven your sins.

We haven’t even gotten to the healing yet. In fact, it comes (humanly speaking) because the scribes are upset that Jesus talks like this. They actually understand what he’s saying quite well. They know what sin is: an offense against a holy God. So they know that it’s absurd– blasphemous, in fact– for this man to come and pronounce that sins have been forgiven. Jesus doesn’t confront them on their doctrine of sin, but on their doctrine of him. And so he heals the man in order to demonstrate to them that he, the Son of Man, has authority on earth to forgive sins– sins that are ultimately offenses against God, even if they’re also against other people.

Of course Jesus healed (and heals!) for lots of reasons, including his great compassion for people, his zeal for his Father’s glory, to demonstrate his triumph over all kinds of evil. But in this case we see one of the primary purposes of all his miracles: to demonstrate Who he is. He is the Son of Man– the One who pronounces things and makes them so. He can just as easily heal the man’s legs as forgive his sins.

But make no mistake: the best news this guy got that day wasn’t that he could walk. It was “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And even though Jesus does a million other great things for us in this life, that’s the best news we can hear too.

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