The Man who forgives Sin Mt. 9:1-8
Topic: Sunday AM Passage: Matthew 9:1–9:8
Mt. 9:1 - 8 Getting into a boat, Jesus crossed over the sea and came to His own city.
2And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, “Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.” 3And some of the scribes said to themselves, “This fellow blasphemes.” 4And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, “Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? 5“Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, and walk’? 6“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, pick up your bed and go home.” 7And he got up and went home. 8But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.
Performative Utterance. Performative Utterance. We have the ability on a small scale. It means the thing is done in the saying. And it's all about authority to make the thing happen.
So we might say to our children, "you're grounded for a week" and the thing becomes reality in our saying it.
If you've got slightly more authority, you might say, "I now pronounce you man and wife" and the thing becomes reality in the saying. Performative utterance.
We're pretty limited to what we can cause to be performed by our stating it.
Jesus says to the wind, peace, be still, and it is silent. Jesus says to the waves, be calm and the sea becomes glass. Jesus says to the demons, go and they rush into pigs. Jesus says, your sins are forgiven, and . . . they are forgiven
In chapter 8 of Matthews gospel, we've looked at miracles that Jesus did.
Matthew has selected miracles, not necessarily in chronological order, but rather, Matthew wants to show us the authority of the King of Kings in a different order. Order of magnitude.
For Matthews purposes each one is greater in the authority that it reveals.
Every kind of sickness is healed. He has authority over sickness whether he's there with the person, or removed. He just says, your servant is healed. And the thing is done.
Then the boat incident. He has authority over creation. The wind and the sea obey His voice.
Then the incident we looked at last week with the demons. He has authority over Satan's hosts. He orders them and they obey.
A crescendo is building. Each miracle is more magnificent in scope and authority. The disciples are amazed and frightened. God is in their boat.
The people of Gerasa are terrified. They know that extraordinary spiritual power is in their presence. A man speaks to demons. They obey His orders.
In each case, the results are immediate, and verifiable. The sickness vanishes. The wind and the waves cease. The wild man is tamed, and the pigs go wild.
This next miracle is the pinnacle. It's the greatest of them all.
Not because the paralysis is cured, although that is something no one else could dream of doing, but because in this miracle, watching the progression of authority over every created thing, we learn that this man, Jesus, has the authority to forgive sin.
And that claim is made immediate and verifiable by Jesus himself in the discussion he has with the scribes present.
Isa. 59:1 - 2 Behold, the LORD'S hand is not so short That it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. 2But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.…
This is foundational. We have a universal problem. We are born with it. Born into a family that passes the birthright to the next and the next and the next. We are, every one of us, sinners.
And that sin seperates us from our creator. It renders us spiritually dead. The soul that sinneth, it shall die. Ez. 18:20
We are born dead. Hopelessly and helplessly seperated from God. Unless someone can take away our sin.
Every miracle that Jesus did prior to this miracle had a logical expiration.
Healing is good today but the person still grows old, suffers other debilitating diseases, and dies like all humans.
The wind and the sea were calmed for that moment and picked up their normal rhythm almost immediately.
The man who was clothed and in his right mind is more lasting than the others by the same way that this miracle has crossed over from the immediate to the eternal.
When sins are forgiven, that lasts forever. That takes a living soul that was seperated from God and without hope and moves it into a position of fellowship with God that will last . . forever.
That's a whole "other" category of authority and a whole different kind of miracle. That's a category of miracles that has continued in the apostles, and in the church and it still happens to this very day.
You can have your sins forgiven! You can be made righteous before a Holy God with a righteousness that isn't your own. It originated with Jesus and is given freely to you. That is a miracle that has eternal value for every one who receives it.
This is a miracle that breaks right into Satan's kingdom and takes what is his away from him. The souls of men, once hopelessly enslaved to Satan and his kingdom can be restored. Transferred as it were from Satan's kingdom to God's kingdom. From Satan's authority to God's authority.
Forgiveness is the key. Sin is where everything ended for mankind. Forgiveness is where everything begins again. Fellowship with God Almighty in heaven is possible for those whose sins are taken away.
Let's look at this greatest miracle. The one that can restore us to a relationship with our Creator.
1Getting into a boat, Jesus crossed over the sea and came to His own city.
We don't know if this was chronologically immediate after the demoniac. Like we've said; for Matthews purposes, it doesn't need to be.
Jesus had adopted Capernaum as His own city. Nazareth, where he grew up with Mary and Joseph rejected Him and tried to murder Him.
Later on when He pronounces 'woes' on the cities that had the greatest revelation we'll see that Capernaum didn't live up to the potential of the revealing of God that they saw.
Never-the-less, Capernaum is as close to being home base as Jesus has. Scholars think this is probably Peter's house. Probably the same venue where Peter's mother in law was healed.
2And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed.
Matthew is almost always short on words, long on meaning. Mark 2 and Luke 5 both record this story for us with more details.
They tell us that Jesus was in the house, teaching the Word. Mark says; Mk. 2:2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them
Jesus was a Bible expositor. And the place was packed. Standing room only. In the doors, every place. Packed.
So this man has four friends. Four guys who love him and they've carried him to Jesus. And they believe Jesus can heal him. They believe Jesus can create new muscles to replace the shriveled useless skin and bones.
They have faith, and they have some tenacity. They get to Peter's house and it's packed. No one can get anywhere near Jesus.
The other gospel writers tell us that they are undaunted. They go up on the roof and begin to take the tiles apart to make an opening. They're going to lower the man in right in front of Jesus.
Ever wonder about Peter's wife? Her house is packed. Her things are trampled. And now some guys are making a hole in her roof! And Peter's going, don't worry honey, those 2 guys on that side of the stretcher are roofing contractors.
So far, no one has said anything about the paralytic. He's sort of lost in the noise of what's going on. He was probably all in at the beginning. "We'll take you to Jesus and He'll heal you. It'll be fine. Stop worrying." OK, I'm in.
But now things are out of hand. His friends are tearing a hole in Peter's roof. Peter's a big guy! This is getting way out of hand. He's lost control.
And here, we have to read between the lines a little bit. The best way to re-construct the situation going on inside this man at the center, is by what Jesus says to him.
And Jesus says three things to him that are just loaded with possibilities.
Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, “Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.”
Take courage. We can reconstruct the image in our minds. The damage to Peter's house is done. He's lowered in front of Jesus. And in his mind are thoughts of inadequacy and terror. He's less than nobody. A common begger. That's all he can do daily.
And now his friends have broken into Peter's house, wrecking a large area in the roof, and here he is, helpless in spite of protestation to his friends, lowered in front of Jesus.
I think he was shaking. He's undone. In more ways than one. I believe the realization has come over him, that this Jesus, who can utter things into existence, is God of very God. And he knows he is a helpless, unworthy sinner. I believe he was shaking uncontrollably.
Jesus has that effect on people. Sometimes. Peter, after catching no fish all night, and lowering the nets one more time at Jesus behest, and the boat is sinking with all of the fish. Peter says, depart from me O Lord, for I am a sinful man.
Like David and Isaiah before him. The presence of Holy God undoes us. One of my favorites, and you've got to read it in the King James, is the king of Persia when the hand writes on the wall in front of him in Daniel 5.
Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.
I think that's what we have here. Except being a paralytic, his knees couldn't smite. He is undone, because he is a sinful man in the presence of God.
And Jesus says Take courage, son. Take courage. At ease. It's going to be OK. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. All of those things. Take courage. It's OK, it's ok. Then he calls him 'son'. And that word in the greek is a term of endearment that fathers saved for their beloved children.
It's a word that denotes dependence. A child to it's parent. Fully dependent.
The paralytic had been fully dependent on his four friends. Now that dependence is given into the hands of Jesus. And Jesus calls him 'son'. That would flood his heart with confidence.
Sort of like when Esther goes into the king. And one reaction of the king would mean death, and the other means life. And the king is delighted to see his beloved Esther. That's a picture of this man. Lowered in front of the King of kings. Unworthy. Sinner. Punishable by death if the king decreed.
And the king says, It's OK. It's OK, child. That's good news. But, as the man selling spot remover on TV says, there's more.
Then He says; your sins are forgiven.”
Where did that come from? Who said anything about sins?
Again, we're going to read between the lines. We learn about a minute after this, that Jesus can read minds. The scribes were thinking within themselves. Jesus knew what they were thinking, and calls them on it.
Why would we not put 2+2 together here and surmise that the reason this man is undone is because of his own sin? That's what's in his trembling heart. "I am an unworthy sinner being lowered in front of the King of Kings, Holy, God." "He would be righteous to turn me into burnt toast crumbs on the floor."
The right response about sin is terror at what we truly deserve before a Holy God.
Jesus looks at him with love. Calls him child. Tells him it's going to be OK. Then He makes a performative utterance. Your sins are forgiven. It is accomplished in the uttering. When Jesus was done saying it, the sins were gone! Performative utterance.
How glorious it would be if we could just stop there. But then it gets ugly.
Vs. 3 And some of the scribes said to themselves, “This blasphemes.”
In the NAS you'll notice that the word "fellow" is in italics. It isn't there in the greek. The translators added it for supposed clarity. I like it better gone. This blasphemes. They understood performative utterance. And they understood that only one person could say those words. God.
They haven't made the connection.
Actually, I'm sympathetic with them to a point. They were guilty of the sin of unbelief. The unforgiveable sin. Unbelief in the One who can forgive sin.
But their theology was sound. Anyone else that would have said this, would be a heretic. A blasphemer. Luke records this in Luke 5:21 The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?”
Who can forgive sin but God, alone. Absolutely correct. Their theology was sound. But they were blind to the fact that God was in the room with them. Locked down in their un-belief.
To say those words as a performative utterance, to suppose the authority necessary for that; is blasphemy, unless you're God.
4And Jesus knowing their thoughts said,
That should have been their first clue. He can read minds. He can tell you what you're thinking. How many fingers am I holding up. In my mind? Oh dear.
“Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?
Is it evil to have the thought that unless a man is God in human flesh, what this man just uttered, blasphemes.
Maybe not. But the evil is much deeper than that. These men are there that day for a far more evil reason.
Luke tells us at the beginning of his version of this story; Lk. 5:17 One day He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem;
Jerusalem? Judea? 85 - 100+ miles away. Why had they come? To see and believe? No. No. They were there to build a case to end His life. And ultimately what was the basis for them killing Him. Blasphemy.
So, when Jesus says "Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?" it's a lot deeper than, Oh, this man made a mis-statement. . . They want Him dead.
Now, wouldn't that trouble you? If the man you want to murder could look inside your head and tell you the evil you're thinking? Just saying. But such is the nature of evil. Paul tells us we are capable of suppressing the truth in Ro. 1:18 - 19
Ro. 1:18 - 19 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.…
The evidence is undeniable. But evil men suppress it. Don't confuse me with the facts. At this early point in His ministry, these men have already made their choice. They are hardened. Blind. The thing is done. They just have to carry it to completion. Something that will happen in God's time, not theirs.
5“Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, and walk’?
We're back to this idea of performative utterance. Which is easier to say?
The data was available to them. Witnesses in the boat. He said Peace, be still. And the mega-storm, the wind like we had on Tuesday that was doing the same thing to the water as it was doing to the dirt where we live, was immediately stilled.
If Jesus had been on that highway we were on where you couldn't see 3 feet in front of the vehicle because of the dirt surrounding you, and said those words, it wouldn't have taken another hour for the dirt to float back to the ground for visibility to be regained. It would have been instant calm. One instant you can't see 3 feet in front of you, and the next blink of an eye, not a single particulate suspended. Instant. His utterance. Authority.
Or the pigs. Hundreds of witnesses. Go ask any of them. One minute a wild man. The next minute, the demons are gone. At one word of authority from this man. He said "Go". Verifiable. Visibly verifiable in the pigs going over the cliff, and the man clothed and in his right mind.
Ask any of the people who had the dead restored alive to them. By a word from his mouth. An utterance.
With evidence like that, to have this evil in your heart that just wants this man dead is possible only by suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.
Which is easier? Well, the answer is obvious to us. None of the things He did is possible among men. Our performative utterance is very limited. Limited to our authority. Our kids. Maybe our wife if we wear the pants in our family.
If you've got more authority, like a judge, perhaps you can utter a few more things and they'll happen. If you're president, maybe you can give it a try. Utter some rights for illegal aliens. See how that goes.
That's about our limit. We can't utter and have legions of demons obey. We can't utter and have the weather obey us, (unless we're Kenneth and Gloria Copeland. They claim they can command the weather. They usurp this very performative utterance that until the word of faith pentecostalism movement happened was solely in the realm of Jesus.) We'll save that discussion for another day.
Jesus said "Which is easier" That's supposed to be a rhetorical question folks. All of it is impossible unless you're God. That was the point He was making.
5“Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, and walk’?
I could stand in front of the Post Office and tell people as they were going in and out, Your sins are forgiven. That actually is easier. But unless I can then turn to a paralytic and say 'Get up, and walk' it doesn't mean a thing.
The miracles that Jesus spoke and they were performed build the foundation for the verification of this utterance. I could say it all day long, it's meaningless. But when this man who calms the wind and the waves with His voice says it, we had better believe it.
The paralytic getting up with new legs full of new muscles that didn't exist one nano-second before Jesus spoke it, is the verification that the other thing that we can't see, actually happended as well. Only God can do either one.
6“But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—
The reason for the miracle isn't Barnum and Bailey. It isn't for our entertainment. It is to cause us by seeing to believe and know that Jesus has authority over this much greater thing that is unseen. Sin. the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—
People come to Jesus for all kinds of dopey reasons. Fix my marriage. Fix my car. Fix my bank account. Make my leg that's shorter than my other one, the same length. Fix my bald spot. Fix my kids. Fix my lawn. Fix the weather at the kids wedding. Whatever.
Jesus is the magic geenie in the bottle that can give us stuff. Well, is He?
Let me help you with priorities. Jesus can fix your sin. Get on your face, and give yourself to him in a master and slave relationship and ask Him to forgive your sin.
Never mind the other stuff. If He's master and you're slave, He'll take care of it. How He wants it.
He's pretty gracious though. He doesn't forgive this guy and then say, OK, make a hole so his 4 guys can come in and get him. That would have been OK. We live about 5 minutes and then eternity, with God, with no sin.
That would have been OK. Sometimes, that is the answer you get. Ask Joni Erickson Tada. Ask her if she could trade having her sins forgiven and pick up her life as a normal 17 year old cheer leader, healed, but with the sin. Would she make that trade? Ask her. Forgiveness is eternity.
He's God. He orders the universe for His purposes. This day, he'll do a miracle so that the people present can verify the weightier thing also happened.
6“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, pick up your bed and go home.”
These moments of stare down between the scribes and pharisees, and Jesus. I'll bet they seemed like hours. A few moments.
The paralytic already had his new legs. He's able. He's ready. Jesus is making a point with some hard heads though. He waits quietly. Can't you imagine what was going on in his heart.
My sins are forgiven! I am a son to the Son of God. And for the first time in many years, I can feel my legs down there. I can feel the elastic power of muscles that can probably launch me 3 feet into the air.
He's waiting for Jesus to make His point with the pharisees and the scribes. The rulers of Israel that want Jesus dead. The staredown that's taking an hour it seems like.
Finally, it's time. Jesus looks at him and says; “Get up, pick up your bed and go home.” Can you imagine.
Vs. 7 And he got up and went home. Useless shriveled skin on bone legs became normal, muscled, strong able legs. Who else can do that? That was a creative act no different than what happened when the same voice spoke the worlds into place. No different. Only God can do that.
Vs. 8 But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men.
Don't you wish that it said, they glorified God, who was in the room with them. They don't quite get it, do they.
God did give that authority to one man. Jesus, the Son of God. Fully God, and fully man.
Think about all the other religions on earth. Which one of them has a man who can say “Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.”
Mohammed never said that. In fact Mohammed was weighed down in sin. Up to his eyeballs in sin.
Joseph Smith never said that. In fact Joseph Smith had to institute polygamy because he couldn't keep his pants on.
Want me to keep going?
The issue is sin. Sin seperates us from a Holy God. Sin is an offense to a Holy God. Sin will send us to an eternal fire apart from God.
One man has the authority to forgive sin. One resurrected man who sits in heaven at the right hand of God has the authority to forgive sin. Ask Him.
More in The Gospel of Matthew
March 26, 2017The Authority and Commission of Jesus Mt. 28:16 - 20
March 19, 2017Jesus IS Alive! The Tomb is Empty Mt. 28: 1 - 15
March 12, 2017The Burial of Jesus Mt. 27:55 - 66 pt. 2