Commentary on the Gospel of
In today’s Gospel reading, we see Jesus healing a paralyzed man. This is one of many examples of Jesus’ public ministry that we can see blossoming throughout Matthew. In fact, just prior to this section, Jesus expels demons from some swineherds. While the act of healing a person is straightforward, albeit difficult, there is a deeper message that can be found here. Before healing the man of his paralysis, Jesus tells him that his sins are forgiven. This caused some outrage, and Jesus was even accused of blasphemy, for which the punishment could be death.
Why did the scribes react this way? Because they were focused on the worldly. In the eyes of the bystanders, the most important thing that could be fixed in the paralyzed man was his physical condition. However, it is important to realize that the greater gift was the forgiveness of the man’s sins. Jesus makes this point evident by asking the crowd which is harder, to say “your sins are forgiven” or to say “rise and walk”. While healing his paralysis undoubtably improved his quality of life, the forgiveness of his sins improved his eternal life.
Jesus knew the people may have trouble believing in His power to heal what cannot be seen (our sins) so He intelligently did things in this order. Showing the crowd that the man was healed physically, may have helped them believe that He healed the man spiritually as well.
This passage is beautiful because it shows us that God desires to know our hearts and heal the broken pieces. He looks beyond the physical to what makes us who we are on the inside. Is this not a wonderful thing to apply today? Moving forward, I hope this reading inspires us to keep up with our spiritual health, in addition to our mental and physical health, through confession, prayer, and whatever else may be necessary.