“And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city. 2And, 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. 3And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. 4And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? 5For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? 6But 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. 7And he arose, and departed to his house. 8But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men. 9And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. 10And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. 11And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? 12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 13But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
(Matthew 9:1-13; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
“And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed” The mysteries of God are often past our finding out! In this passage, men of faith bring a man stricken of the palsy to Christ. We are not told that the sick man had faith, but we are told that his friends DID have faith that Christ could heal him. How many remarkable graces come into our lives due to the intercession of dear and faithful friends! How often would we have lain in our own pains and sufferings were it not for the prayers and good offices of faithful friends? “And Jesus seeing their faith!” Jesus acted, perhaps as much (or more) on the faith of the stretcher bearers as that of the one born on the stretcher.
“Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” Christ practiced the method of ‘triage’ in healing. Triage (from the French) is the process of determining the priority of patients’ treatments based on the severity of their condition. Christ looked upon the most critical need of this man born unto Him and treated the most serious affliction first – that of sin! Christ forgave the man of the deadly leprosy of SIN! He did so for another reason as well: to reveal the ignorance and hypocrisy of the Scribes who were present.
This man blasphemeth: These forlorn hypocrites were not truth seekers, but self-righteous promoters of themselves. The Scribes and Pharisees followed after Christ everywhere in an effort to find the slightest misstep whereby they might accuse Him. They witnessed at least as many miracles, and heard at least as many God-spoken sermons as any of the Apostles, yet, they were in denial (not a river in Egypt). They presented themselves as pious men of God, but Christ looks upon the heart and not the outward form as His next words suggest:
“Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?” Regardless the show we make of our righteousness, God sees into our hearts and knows the reality there. “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…” (Proverbs 23:7) “Be not deceived, God is not mocked….” (Galatians 6:7). These men were evil because their ‘thoughts’ were evil.
“For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?” If the wicked cannot believe the unseen (forgiveness of sins) then Christ will give more visible and profound evidence of Who He is. Yet, they still deny and disbelieve, not out of ignorance or lack of proof, but willful rebellion. Not only did Christ heal the man, but gave him strength to take up his own bed which more men had carried and go to his home! What evidence yet lacked these marvels of unbelief! The less scripture-gifted crowds marveled, yet the Scribes persisted in presumptive unbelief.
“He saw a man, named Matthew” Christ gathers His servants from the casual walks of life, not usually the preeminently gifted men. Of course, He knew Matthew long before Matthew knew Him. “Follow me!” I wonder if Matthew realized what power it was that constrained him to immediately follow without question? But he did! It was the unseen power of the Holy Spirit drawing Matthew – a choice that was made before ever the world, sun, moon, or stars were hurled by the finger of God into their orbits in space.
“Many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples” Most of the First churches, and opulent cathedrals, of the world may not understand this, either, just in the same way that it escapes the understanding of the Pharisees of the world. Just after Christmastide, I was both amused and saddened to see this inscription on the Marquee of a local church: “Wanted: Good Christians Only!” This is tantamount to placing a sign out front of the hospital which would read “Wanted: Healthy People Only!” If Christ accepts you and me, with our excess of sinful baggage, He must accept all (for the forgiveness of all the elect are not beyond the reach of the arm of God to forgive). It gives me great comfort in knowing that “I love Him because He first loved me!” …..that when Christ looked upon me as if wasting in my sins, He did not see me as an incorrigible sinner. No, not at all! But when He looks upon those whom He calls and chooses, He sees them for what they WILL surely be in, and through, Him by His unfathomable Grace, for, “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”