Matthew 9:1-8 The Power To Forgive.

Matthew 9:1-8 The Power To Forgive.

Jesus spoke and the winds and waves obeyed, and he and his disciples “crossed over, and came to His own city” (v. 1). According to Matthew elsewhere, this city was Nazareth (2:23; 4:13-14 Cf. Jn. 1:45-46). We also read in John that the prophets predicted that the Messiah would be “from the town of Bethlehem” (7:42 Cf. Mic. 5:2; I Sam. 16:1-4), although not describing it as “His own city.” There does not appear to be any specific reference in the written prophets to Nazareth, although it may have been oral tradition. The passage at hand does not indicate either Nazareth or Bethlehem, but although he was born in Bethlehem, he was born there while Mary and Joseph were travelling for the census (Lk. 2:4).

The real controversy was what Jesus said to the paralytic whom he had healed. Jesus, to show that he had the divine authority to forgive sins, said to the man. “Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you” (v. 2 Cf. Lk. 5:17-26). For the scribes this was blasphemous, because only God could make such a declaration (v. 3). Jesus knew what they were thinking in their hearts, and it was evil, because he is in fact God (v. 4 Cf. 12:25; Is. 43:25). The physical healing of the paralytic was a way of showing that he was a true prophet who, as God, had this authority. One thing was as easy for him to say as the other, but he said what he said so that people would “know that the son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins” (vv. 5-6a).

Jesus then told the man to take up his bed and go to his house, and he did so (vv. 6b-7). What is also interesting about this story is that Jesus commends not just the faith of the man himself, but that of his friends, for Matthew says that “Jesus saw their faith” (v. 2b Cf. 8:10). There is indeed something significant when our brothers and sisters unite with us in faith believing God for a miracle, for healing and forgiveness. The crowds marvelled or were amazed that the man Jesus had such authority, and they glorified God (v. 8 Cf. Jn. 7:15). In the end, this is our chief end, to glorify God and fully to enjoy him forever (WLC). “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (I Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:17).

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