As we read along in the Gospel of Matthew we see Jesus touch and heal frequently. But the heart of the matter for Matthew wasn’t necessarily the physical healing. His primary concern was sin. We see that clearly in Chapter 9 where Jesus is presented with the paralytic and he says to him in verse 3, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” Jesus makes it clear as he heals this man that the healing is the evidence of Jesus’ power to do what only God can do. The story continues in verse 4, “And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, ‘This man is blaspheming.’ But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?” Hopefully, you get the question. Jesus does not ask which is it easier “to do.” He asks which is it easier “to say.” Anyone could say your sins are forgiven and who would know if it were true or not? It would be easy to say “your sins are forgiven.” So Jesus continues addressing the religious leaders: “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins“—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home.

The heart of the matter is our sin. Jesus takes it upon himself to do what only God can do—forgive sins. It is a preposterous claim. It immediately induces the charge of blasphemy. M. Green writes, “… it looks to us as if such a claim was empirically unverifiable. Not, however, to the scribes. There was a deeply rooted conviction in Judaism that all suffering was a result of personal sin, and that nobody could be cured until he or she was forgiven. For instance, Rabbi Chija ben Abba said, ‘No sick person is cured from sickness until all his sins have been forgiven him.’ Rabbi Alexander agreed: ‘The sick does not arise from his sickness until his sins are forgiven.’ With that understanding, imagine the impact that the healing of this man would have had. Not only would it have shown that the word of Jesus was mighty to effect change, just as the word of God had been from the beginning of time. It would have given the most powerful evidence to them that Jesus really was authorized to forgive sins. If not, how could he have cured the sick man? And that led to the corollary that he was performing on earth the very task that God reserved for himself in heaven.

Through our personal faith in Christ we can all “…take heart…our sins are forgiven.”

“Take heart, my son, your sins are forgiven.” Matthew 9:2