Summary: Jesus' healing of the paralytic is a lesser miracle performed by Jesus in order for Jesus to provide an even greater miracle: Forgiveness.
“A Lesser to Prove the Greater”
The book of Matthew does not describe Jesus’ Ministry in chronological order, but thematically. Matthew shows not only the Deity of the Messiah, but the very character of the Lord Jesus: Jesus is THE ONE whom the prophets had predicted. There can only be ONE and Jesus fits ALL of the requirements to be the Messiah and King of the Kingdom. There is an Old Testament “Jewish-ness” to the many miracles that Jesus performed, because He was the “Jew” who God promised as Lord and Savior from sin.
Today’s miracle is the 6th specific miracle of nine recorded in chapters 8-9, which displays once again, the ultimate authority of the Lord Jesus. This miracle of the paralytic is recorded in three of the Gospels; I am going to read it, blending the three accounts:
Matthew 9: 1 Getting into a boat, Jesus crossed over the sea and came to His own city.” (Capernaum: Matt. 4:13: Jesus moved from Nazareth to Capernaum.)
Luke 5:17c interjects this phrase: “and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing.”
Mark 2: 2-4: “And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. 4 Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying.”
Matthew 9:2 And they brought to Him a paralytic, lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, (mentioned in all three Gospels.) Jesus said to the paralytic, "Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven." 3 And some of the scribes said to themselves (Mark 2:6- “reasoning in their hearts”, not speaking out loud), "This fellow blasphemes."
Matt. 9:4 “And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, "Why are you thinking evil in your heart? 5 "Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up, and walk'? 6 "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." 7 And he got up and went home.
8 But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men. (Mark 2:12c: “They were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this." Luke 5:26: “26 They were all struck with astonishment and began glorifying God; and they were filled with fear, saying, "We have seen remarkable things today.")
Matthew continues to build upon the theme of the Kingdom Works of Jesus which proves that He is the Messiah, that He is King of the Kingdom of God, and that He is displaying the ALMIGHTY power of God. A man with “Para-lu-ti-kos”, with palsy or paralysis, is brought by his four friends to Peter’s house where Jesus was preaching to a group of people, and lowered down by ropes through a roof opening, in order to be placed directly in front of Jesus.
The Miracle of Faith
The condition of the paralytic man is very important, in that he, himself, was incapable of moving toward Jesus in his own strength, yet he, as well as his friends possessed something in order to move all five men in Jesus’ direction: They all possessed faith.
Perhaps, their faith was just, as some people call it, “natural faith”. These men had a friend who needed healing, and at least from the stories they had heard about Jesus, they were willing to go to some extreme lengths to bring their friend to Jesus, but it is JESUS to whom they brought their friend. They had confidence that Jesus could relieve their friend from his misery and his inability to walk. They may have “had faith” in the same way that people go to the doctor or hospital when they aren’t feeling well: They have a confidence in other human beings and their abilities.
We have to realize, that God IS WORKING Sovereignly to move some people to hear the Good News and respond. Luke 5:17 shows that God was prepared to do what HE INTENDED to do: “The power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing.” God is working, planning, pulling and prodding by His Word and Spirit to bring SOME to belief and SAVING Faith in the Lord Jesus. Plenty of people and their friends who “NEED JESUS” and they “hear about Jesus”, but never move an inch in the direction TOWARD Jesus, and so NO changes occur in their lives whatsoever…because God’s Spirit is not there.