Summary: Jesus healed a paralytic man. The miracle was witnessed by a group of scribes who immediately began criticizing Him. They were determined to disbelieve. Unfortunately, there are still people like that in the world today.
DETERMINED TO DISBELIEVE
1. Matthew 9:2-8 (NKJV) Then behold, they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, "Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you." 3 And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, "This Man blasphemes!" 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 "For which is easier, to say, ’Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ’Arise and walk’? 6 "But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins"; then He said to the paralytic, "Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house." 7 And he arose and departed to his house. 8 Now when the multitudes saw it, they marveled and glorified God, who had given such power to men.
2. Mark and Luke also offer their accounts of this story and add additional details such as the paralytic man being let down through the roof into the presence of Jesus. However, Matthew does not focus his attention as much on the miracle itself as he does on the reaction of the people who were present.
3. Luke tells us that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law present who had come out of every town of Galilee as well as Judea and Jerusalem [Luke 5:17]. What brought about such a turnout of the religious authorities?
a. Jesus had been working a great many miracles. He had healed the sick. He had cast out demons. He had calmed the stormy sea.
b. Multitudes followed Jesus. He must have been the talk of all Israel. The healing of the paralytic man took place in "His own city" [Matthew 9:1] . . . that referred to Capernaum at the northern end of the Sea of Galilee. But some of the scribes present had come all the way from Jerusalem.
c. Some of the scribes were impressed with Jesus. We saw in our last study how one scribe impulsively promised to follow Jesus wherever He went [Matthew 8:19]. However, not all of them were so open-minded.
4. Jesus spoke to the paralytic man and said, "Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you." Sources indicate that many of the Jews in Jesus’ time thought that all kinds of physical illness came as a direct result of a person’s sin. Some of the rabbis taught that no one could be healed until their sins were forgiven. Jesus does not say that this is true, but it is not His intention at this time to correct this misunderstanding. So instead of saying, "you are healed," He told the man "your sins are forgiven."
5. The scribes heard this and reasoned something like this:
-- Only God can forgive sins.
-- This man is not God.
* Therefore, this man is blaspheming.
6. This kind of reasoning betrays their judgmental spirit. They were looking for something to criticize about Jesus.
7. A better way of thinking about what they were seeing and hearing would have been:
-- Only God can forgive sins.
-- This man claims to be able to forgive sins and he can work miracles.
* Therefore, this man may be God. (They should have been open to considering the evidence rather than immediately jumping to the conclusion that Jesus was making a false claim.)
8. Jesus replied to their unspoken thoughts.
a. He asked "Why do you think evil in your hearts?"
b. Was it easier for the Son of God to say "your sins are forgiven" or "arise and walk"?
c. Commanding the paralyzed man to walk provided visible proof of Jesus’ power, so He said, "Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house." [Matthew 9:6].
9. The crowd was filled with awe and glorified God [v. 7]. However, the scribes evidently not included in that summary statement of the reaction to this miracle taking place. The religious authorities continued to oppose the good that Jesus was doing. We are accurate to say that they were Determined to Disbelieve.
10. We still live in a time when many people are determined to disbelieve. They refuse to consider the proposition that Jesus is able to forgive sins.
I. THEY DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THEY HAVE ANY SINS.
A. Many believe the concept of personal sinfulness is out-dated. We’re told that sin and guilt are old superstitions and should be discarded by modern, intelligent people.
1. Of course, it’s true that we don’t always get sick directly because of sin. Germs cause an infection within us and we get sick. [Some sicknesses do come as a consequence of sinful behavior. For example, one who gets drunk a lot may end up with cirrhosis of the liver.]