Today's Reading: Matthew 9:1-8
When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men. (Matthew 9:8)
What Jesus did for that paralyzed man, He also wants to do to you - forgive you and raise you up. In that order. Forgiveness was not likely on the minds of the people who brought the paralyzed man to Jesus. They were thinking of his healing. But, Jesus goes for the greater gift first - forgiveness. Without forgiveness, there is no healing, and where there is forgiveness, there is also life and salvation.
The religious types are aghast. “Who did this guy think he was, God?” They cannot fathom the notion that God dwells among us, that He should reach out to us in this way, by sending His only-begotten Son. Well, yes, that’s who Jesus is. He is God in the flesh. But, they refused to believe it.
Jesus poses a question to them. “Which is easier to say - your sins are forgiven, or arise and walk?” For men both are impossible, but with God both are a word away. And that’s exactly what Jesus does. With a Word, He raises the paralytic from his bed and sends Him home to demonstrate that such authority to forgive sin has truly come among men.
With a Word Jesus forgives, and with a Word He raises. With a Word He forgives you. You a sinner paralyzed in sin, held captive by death, bound by the Law. With a Word of absolution He frees you. That Word of absolution that you hear from your pastor, spoken “in the stead and by the command of Christ” and “by His authority.” Hear your pastor as if Christ, our dear Lord, were dealing with you Himself.
And on the Last Day, you will hear your dear Lord Jesus speak to you, calling you from your grave, and saying, “Arise and come home,” freed at last from the paralysis of death forever.
O almighty and most merciful God, of Your bountiful goodness keep us, we implore You, from all things that may hurt us, that we, being ready, both in body and soul, may cheerfully accomplish those things that You would have done; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord,who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen (Collect for Trinity 19)