He entered a boat, made the crossing, and came into his own town. And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” At that, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why do you harbor evil thoughts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 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 stretcher, and go home.” He rose and went home. When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to human beings.( Matthew 9:1-8)
These eight lines of scripture reveal much to us about Jesus Christ, about human friendship and, most of all, about praying in faith.
For the Jews, an illness such as paralysis was a punishment from God for sin. Notice that Jesus does not at first say, ‘pick up your mat and walk’ but He says, ‘your sins are forgiven’. Christ’s power to forgive and to heal is a focal point of this story. Jesus, after speaking to the Scribes, says to them, “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.” And he got up and he went home.
Here Jesus demonstrates His authority and His power. Here He evidences His deity. He evidences who He is. He is explicitly making a truth claim here. In other instances, He was doing other things when He did miracles, but in this instance, He is specifically making a claim, He says, “I am doing this that you may know that I have the power to forgive sins.” He is pressing home a claim of truth upon these scribes, and upon all those who are present.
The friends of the paralytic teach us about the strength of faith. They journeyed with the friend to a place that Jesus was and fully expected that He would heal their friend. They did not ask, they did not plead, they did not engage in a quid pro quo. Instead they simply brought their friend and fully expected that Jesus Christ would heal their friend. They believed, they understood, they acted on their belief.
And that brings us to intercessory prayer. His friends brought the paralyzed man to Jesus to see what Jesus could do, not to ask for what they want or hope. Their prayer is complete trust in God’s will. Lord do you see what we see in this suffering man? What is Your will Lord?
Many people wonder how to pray and for what they should pray. This Gospel lesson teaches us one aspect of prayer – just present the names of those you care about to God. Let God decide what they need. You don’t have to ask for anything, just care about others and offer them up to God in prayer.
Prayer isn’t necessarily about you knowing everything you need to say and knowing how to say it perfectly. It is you placing before God those you care about, asking God to consider them. In as much as God is love, let God decide what to do with those for whom we pray. Don’t tell God what to do, ask God to note those you are concerned about. In this way we can pray for everyone whether we think they deserve mercy or judgment – place them all in God’s hands and then let God do God’s own will!
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, through your merciful love and forgiveness you bring healing and restoration to body, soul, and mind. May your healing power and love touch every area of my life — my innermost thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and memories. Pardon my offences and transform me in the power of your Holy Spirit that I may walk confidently in your truth and righteousness.”
Great men, no matter how great they are, don’t go around forgiving people’s sins. It’s an amazing thing, isn’t it, when Christ walks up to another man, a man who He has never met before, and suddenly says, “I forgive your sins.” If I did that, people would think that I was just a few bricks short of a load. The Lord Jesus walks up to this man and says, “You’re forgiven.” Great prophets, great moral teachers, philosophers, they don’t do things like that. Only the sinless Son of God walks up to people and says, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ How blessed are we by Him.