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We see something very unusual in the ninth chapter of Matthew. Some people brought a paralytic to Jesus. And when Jesus saw their faith He worked miraculously in the man's life. In this passage Jesus lays out for us some powerful truths about biblical faith. Look with me at this passage.
“And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”
And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves,
“This man is blaspheming.”
But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said,
“Why do you think evil in your hearts? For 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 bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men”
Let me help you see some vital truths about our faith in Jesus Christ in this passage.
The Cooperation of Faith
These people surely encouraged one another's faith as they got together to take this man to Jesus. Mark 2:4 and Luke 5:19 tell us something of the great extremes they went to to bring the man to Jesus. This ought to encourage us to work together and pray together in the church. When we do this God's power will be unleashed.
And I think we can assume something else here about the encouragement of faith. I believe Jesus included the paralytic when He said “their faith.” Surely his faith was encouraged, possibly even spawned by the faith of those bringing him.
The Comprehensiveness of Faith
But note, when people trust in Jesus, they do not just trust him for the specific thing they are seeking. We put our faith in the person of Christ, seeking His full work in our lives. It is typical of Jesus' miracles for Him to begin by forgiving sins. Many years ago I heard John Bisagno tell about receiving a letter from a young soldier in Vietnam. The boy told about hearing a sermon tape about being saved. And the young man gave a testimony of praying for his life to be saved in a firefight. And thanking God that he came back alive. John wrote him back and told him he needed more than the saving of his physical life. He needed his sins forgiven and the gift of eternal life.
The Confirmation of Faith
Some of the teachers of the law were offended by this. They knew an ordinary human did not have the authority to forgive sins. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, ask them which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or, “Rise up and walk.” And then He said, “So that you will know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins, rise take up your bed and go home.”
I have heard people criticize Faith Healers by saying, “If they can really do that, why don't they just go through the hospitals and empty them.” I'm not sure that is always Justified criticism of those who pray for people to be healed. But in fact Jesus did that very thing. He didn't go through hospitals. There were no hospitals then. Hospitals only came after the influence of His ministry spread across the world. But He went through entire towns and villages healing everyone He came to. God did many mighty works revealing Himself in history in the Old Testament. But in Matthew 9:33 the people said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”
The miracles of Jesus confirm who He is. But you might say, “How does that help me? I was not there to see Him work those miracles.” In fact you can see some of the miracles of Jesus recorded in Scripture. There have been those who speculated that Jesus intentionally brought things about in His life so it would appear that He was fulfilling Old Testament prophecy. But it is very difficult to orchestrate the time and place of your birth. The Old Testament even gives specific details of his death down to the soldiers gambling for His clothing. And it is very difficult to explain the radical change in the lives of His followers, if He did not rise from the grave.” And when we read of His life and teachings, His compassion and miracles, God will confirm faith in Him in our lives.
The Terror of Faith
In verse 8 we read that the multitudes who saw these things were afraid. When you begin to really believe who Jesus is, His reality will frighten you. He is the God of the universe walking among Us.
The Result of Faith
And when you realize who He is, you will give glory to God. It is very interesting that whatever Jesus did caused people to give glory to His Father. Our faith in Him should do that. If your faith in Him makes people say what a wonderful person you are, it is faulty. When we genuinely place our faith in God others will come to tremble in His presence and place their faith in Him as well.