Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on Matthew 9:1-8.
And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee (Mathew 9:2).
Matthew says, “they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed.” Under the English expression “sick of the palsy” is just one Greek word paralytikos, from which we get the English word “paralytic.” One commentator observed, “Here, we must assume, the text is talking about a completely paralyzed man, who is supine without the ability to move at all” (Alfeyev, Miracles, 123).
We are not told how this sickness came about. This paralysis might have been caused by many things. Maybe it was something that could be easily treated and cured today, but it could not then. It had completely immobilized this man, and he was entirely dependent upon the care of others for everything.
Think about this. He had to depend on others to be fed, to be given drink, to be dressed, to take care of natural necessities, to be washed, to move from point a to point b. Maybe he had once been a perfectly healthy man, a strong and able man. Can you imagine moving from that kind of state to the state in which this man was? Can you imagine what this might have done to him emotionally and spiritually? Even what it might have done to him theologically? Had he questioned the wisdom and goodness of God in this providence?
Notice now what Christ says to this poor man as he initially addresses him: “Son, be of good cheer….” In Greek the word for “son” here is actually the word for “child.” This was apparently a grown man, but with this address Christ extends a fatherly care to him. He is not patient X to Christ, but he is his “child.”
He also tells him, “be of good cheer” (which means, “be confident” or “have courage”). Sometimes if you are really sick, it can be very encouraging if someone merely says to you, “Take courage.” How much more when it is Christ himself who says these words to you!
Finally, Christ says to this completely disabled man, “thy sins be forgiven thee.” Christ makes this declaration not because this man or anyone else asked for it. At this point his paralysis might have included his mouth and tongue, so that he could not even speak. Christ gives this man what he did not and likely could not even ask for!
The man’s presenting need was his physical paralysis, but Christ saw that he had a greater need. He was a sinner, and the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23).
The man’s paralysis is a picture of human inability. He could not speak for himself. He could not act for himself. He was a sinner, frozen in a state, as it were, that did not allow him to do anything for himself.
Christ had to do it all for him. And by grace he did!
No sinner is able to help himself. Everyone whom Christ saves by his free grace is like that paralytic. Christ calls us his child, admonishes us to have courage, and forgives our sin.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle