While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:10-13 (NIV)
God’s love compelled him to send his Son into the world to save us from the consequences of our sin—broken relationships, destruction, and death (John 3:16). And Jesus’ compassion drove him into the presence of those who were most aware of their need—sinners, outcasts, unclean, oppressed, poor, sick, young.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” Mark 2: 5-7, 9-12 (NIV)
This is the first account of Jesus addressing our sin directly and forgiving sin on the basis of faith. In this case, the faith of the friends moves Jesus’ compassionate heart toward their paralytic friend.
Two things I’d like to point out in the passage:
- Jesus claims to have the authority to forgive sins—a characteristic God alone!
- Faith moved Jesus to forgive sins and to restore health!
You may object to the passage above claiming sickness is not always the result of sin—to which Jesus would respond, this is true. (See John 9:1-3) But we are all guilty of sin against God, for we have all rebelled against his righteous laws. (See Matthew 5-7)
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”