The Claim to Forgive Sin
Matthew 9:2
And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said to the sick of the palsy…

Thy sins be forgiven thee. There is an important distinction between the claim to forgive sin, and the claim to declare sins forgiven. The Christian priest does not claim the power to forgive sin; he does claim the authority to declare sins forgiven. Which of these Christ claimed may be disputed, but it is clear that the scribes present understood him to claim "power to forgive;" such a claim alone could be regarded as "blasphemy." But, strictly treated, our Lord's words do no more than declare a fact. Jesus treated the powers he possessed as Divine powers entrusted to his charge; what he asserts is that these powers concern two spheres, that of the body and that of the soul; that of sickness and that of sin, which is the real root of sickness. These men who brought their friend for healing, showed, by their devices and their energy, such faith in Jesus as a Healer of bodily diseases, that they were in a fit state of mind to receive the higher truth concerning him. "To him that hath shall more be given."

I. THE POWER TO DEAL WITH SIN IS CHRIST'S SUPREME TRUST. "The Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins." Our Lord's healing of bodily disease then took men's chief attention, and often prevented their heeding his spiritual work. This is true still. Jesus is now regarded as a Friend of the suffering, and this is pushing out of view his real work as the Saviour of sinners. Miracle for healing disease was not, and is not, man's supreme reed. God would not bow the heavens and come down to effect merely that object. Genius, science, and skill suffice for effective dealing with such things. The Incarnation is relative to sin. The true miracle is the supernatural dealing with sin; the Divine removal of its penalties; the Divine restoration of the conditions it has broken up; the Divine deliverance from its power. Jesus has the miraculous power to save men from their sins.

II. THE POWER TO DEAL WITH THE CONSEQUENCES OF SIN IS CHRIST'S ILLUSTRATION OF HIS POWER TO DEAL WITH SIN ITSELF. The Jews connected suffering with sin as its cause. They were so far right, and only went wrong when they tried to explain individual cases. Christ never healed for the simple sake of healing; the influence of the act on his higher work in souls was always in his mind. - R.T.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: Behold, they brought to him a man who was paralyzed, lying on a bed. Jesus, seeing their faith, said to the paralytic, "Son, cheer up! Your sins are forgiven you."

Christ's Encouragements
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