Authority Extended

Yesterday, our text was Matthew 9:1-8…

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.

This is something of a “transitional” miracle.  Up to this point, as readers and hearers of the Word, we could understand the gist of the purpose of the miracles:  To show the authority of Christ, the God-Man.  In this text, the purpose is stated plainly and clearly and dividing lines are drawn.

Christ tells the paralytic to be filled with joy (“take heart”) because He has forgiven his sins.  Immediately, those in the religious order who hear this grumble about blasphemy.  Christ knows their thoughts (the meaning of their whispers), and proceeds to show that as surely as He can utter forgiveness He can tell the paralytic to get up and walk.  So He did.  This was to show the witnesses that Christ has authority over all of creation and has authority over the spiritual world.  He says God-like things and does God-like things because He is God!

So, the same Christ who commands creation to do His will has the authority to command the souls of men.  When He brings forgiveness, He commands repentance.  The fact that anyone would repent shows Christ’s authority over their lives, not their own strength or spiritual acumen.  In doing so, Christ commands that the forgiven be filled with courageous joy (the meaning of “take heart”).

Are you filled with a risk-taking, courageous joy?  If not, remember your redemption.  Have you shown that joy in the simplest, most mundane acts of obedience (the paralytic just got up and went home)?  What more do you need?  Who else do you need?  Christ is the King and He has the authority to charge you with a joy that flows from your being forgiven, which should outwork itself in your simple obedience to to and tell these things.

Remember, Jesus doesn’t heal everyone in this life.  In fact, in this account it is clear that joy is tied to spiritual healing, not physical.  So, everyone who calls on His name will receive forgiveness and joy.  Not everyone will be physically healed in the “here and now.”  However, EVERYONE who has been truly forgiven, redeemed, will be healed fully and finally on that day when Christ returns to established His kingdom.

Beloved, we are God ‘s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

I John 3:2-3


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