“Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your pallet and walk?’ ‘But so that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he said to the paralytic—‘I say to you, rise, take up your pallet and go home.’ And he rose, and immediately took up the pallet and went out before them all; so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, ‘We never say anything like this!’”
Jesus was just beginning his ministry and he needed to establish credibility about his authority as God’s Son. He had been telling the many people who are following him important lessons about God and the need for them to love God and to follow God’s wisdom. But Jesus was preaching a new direction and new lessons for the Jews to follow. Many were skeptical and reluctant to change. I believe Jesus was showing the crowds that the few who wholeheartedly believe in Jesus’s message will find favor with God. Jesus did not have much time to let the truth of his message grow in people and build their belief in him. I believe the most direct way for Jesus to show God’s love for those who believed in, and acted on, his message was to perform dramatic miracles that cured the sick or lame.
In this passage, the four men who brought the paralytic believed in Jesus so strongly that they even cut a hole in the roof and lowered down the paralytic’s pallet for Jesus to notice. On the basis of their faith, Jesus forgave the paralytic’s sins. But skeptics did not believe Jesus was the Son of God and had the authority to forgive sins. They needed a healing miracle to convince them that what he had been preaching was authentic and true. Jesus needed to attract attention to get his message across, and by healing the paralytic whose friends showed both faith and a willingness to take dramatic steps based on that faith, he demonstrated his authority and convinced receptive people of God’s power through his message.
Jesus, help me to see the miracles that happen through God’s grace every day around me, and help me to believe in the good news that you brought to all of us. Amen.