12 March 2019Matthew 9:2-8
When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings. (v. 8)
Psalm: Psalm 95
In today's reading, Jesus shows his authority through proclaiming forgiveness of sin. This was understood as something only God could do, attracting the accusation of ‘blasphemy’ from the religious leaders. Jesus’ claim was problematic for the leaders as it undermined their sense of power to interpret the law. While some leaders occasionally used God’s law as a tool of oppression, here Jesus exclaims freedom from sin.
Jesus’ question is interesting: "Which is easier…?" In a sense the claim to forgive sins is easier to say since there is little immediate proof that this has happened. To tell the man to stand up is harder since that demands instant proof. Jesus does the latter to show his authority in the former.
Perhaps in this action is a hint at what Jesus himself will do through his death and resurrection. He will overcome sin once and for all and he will "stand up and walk" from the grave. He will take the harder path to prove the seemingly impossible.
In his claim today, Jesus is challenging the authority of the whole temple system and the entire priestly order. Jesus is the new temple and the Great High Priest. Ironically this is the claim and the charge that will lead to his death (Matthew 26:63b-65). However, death is not the end for this figure of authority.
- In this story the paralysed man had to rely on others to bring him to Jesus. Who do you rely on when times are tough? Give thanks for them today.
- What does it mean to you to hear "your sins are forgiven"? How might we live as though this is the case?