And after getting into a boat he crossed the water and came to his own town. And just then some people were carrying a paralysed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.’ Then some of the scribes said to themselves, ‘This man is blaspheming.’ But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven”, or to say, “Stand up and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—he then said to the paralytic—‘Stand up, take your bed and go to your home.’ And he stood up and went to his home. When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings.
The first thing that this text reminds me of as I write this, is the tremendous effort that Kevin Sinfield and his wonderful support team has just undertaken for his friend, Rob Burrow who suffers from MND, because the paralysed man was being carried on his bed by his friends. I wonder where they were taking him.
I suspect that they might have heard that Jesus was in town and were taking him to see Jesus, in the belief that He had the power to heal him.
This tells us that both the paralysed man and his friends were believers and recognised the power of God working through Him.
Jesus then acknowledges their faith, and forgives the man. This starts the gossip, and the teachers of the law are horrified. Of course, Jesus, knowing what they are thinking, asks them why they harbour evil thoughts and he gives them what for them is a dilemma; which is easier, to tell him that his sins are forgiven or to tell him to get up and walk. Then, to make it clear that He has been given authority on earth to forgive sins, He tells the paralysed man to get up, take his bed and go home. The man got up and did just that. When the crowd following Jesus saw this, they were filled with awe and glorified God because they recognised that the power had come from God.
Father, we know that you look upon us and our world with compassion and love. Cast out our sins and heal us, so that we can begin to heal the world. In Jesus’ name we ask this. Amen.
Ann Barton, Lay leader, Whittlesford URC in the Eastern Synod