Authority to Heal and Forgive

Matthew 9: 1-8
Gen 22:1b-19 / Psa 115

Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” Then He said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”
(Matthew 9: 6-7)

Forgiveness comes before we heal;
With sin miracles won’t happen...
Our faith can help but not until
All our sins have been forgiven.

Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to His own town. Some men brought to Him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!” Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” Then He said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” And the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men. (Matthew 9: 1-8)

Reflection

Matthew’s narrative in today’s Gospel brings to light not only the vital connection between forgiveness and healing, but the subtle way that Jesus proved that He was indeed God, (for only God could forgive sins), by commanding the paralytic to “Get up, take your mat and go home.” After all, if He could command a storm to be calm and cast out demons earlier that day, surely He must also have the authority to forgive sins.

As prophesied by Scriptures, the Messiah would come to be God’s sacrificial Lamb for the remission of sins. “He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows … pierced for our transgressions … crushed for our iniquities … the LORD laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:4,5,6). The Book of Isaiah says further: “Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities” (Isa 53:10,11).

In His great love for mankind, God became man in Jesus Christ in order to heal a world that had been stricken by sin. All the calamities, conflicts and contagion in the world were the effects of original sin. Now, if Jesus could heal or repair the damage caused by sin, surely He could take upon Himself sin itself by forgiving all sinners. In fact, this was His mission, according to the Father’s plan.

The wonder of it was the subtle way our Lord Jesus executed that plan. By publicly forgiving the paralytic of his sins, He gave the scribes, the teachers of the law, a “valid” reason to accuse Him of blasphemy, which would be their basis later on for his trial and execution. His eventual crucifixion and death in Calvary would be the culmination of His life’s mission for the salvation of mankind from sin.

In order to be true followers of Christ, we too must learn how to forgive. When Peter asked Jesus how many times we must forgive a brother who sins against us, He answered, “I say to you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Mt.19:22). Forgiveness lies in the crux of healing our broken relationships – with God and with our brothers and sisters. May this important lesson lead to unity, love and peace.

Lord Jesus, thank You for the lessons that You have lovingly imparted to us in today’s Gospel. Grant, O Lord, that we may follow them for our own healing and justification. Amen.

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