3 “And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 6 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.” 7 And he rose and went home. 8 When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.” (Matthew 9:3–8 (ESV)
3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” (Psalm 130:3–4 (ESV)
“Our Savior’s first response is to pronounce the lame man forgiven (v. 2), and some commentators believe this indicates that sin is the cause of the man’s paralysis. Sin can indeed cause many illnesses, but note that Scripture never teaches that disease is always proof of transgression in a person’s life (John 9:1–3). In any case, Christ’s declaration of pardon does not sit well with the scribes. Forgiveness, it is well known, is the prerogative of God alone (Ps. 130:3–4). An ordinary man who claims this right puts himself in the Creator’s place and commits blasphemy (Matt. 9:3),” explains Dr. R. C. Sproul.
The scribes, and presumably the Pharisees, accused Jesus of blasphemy (Luke 5:17). Blaspheming (βλασφημέω; blasphemeo) means to insult, slander, or curse, (Matt. 9:3; Mark 3:28; 15:29; John 10:36; Acts 13:45; 19:37; Rom. 3:8; 14:16; Titus 3:2; James 2:7; 1 Peter 4:4; Jude 8; Rev. 16:9). The religious leaders were accusing Jesus of insulting and slandering God. What they did not realize was that Jesus was/is God.
They did not confront Jesus to His face, but rather condemned Him to themselves. In other words, they did not accuse Jesus out loud but rather they condemned Him in their thoughts. They did not acknowledge that Jesus was Immanuel, God in the flesh.
Jesus confirmed this when the text says, “But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts?” Jesus displayed divine omniscience in knowing what the religious leaders were thinking. In spite of this, there is no record that they acknowledged Jesus’ divinity.
Jesus continued by saying, “5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” Jesus claimed to be God; for to forgive sins is to claim divine authority (Isaiah 43:25). The scribes acknowledged this is what Jesus meant by what He said.
“Jesus’ response is extraordinary for two reasons. First, the man has come for healing of a physical disability, but Jesus speaks about the more profound defect of sin and about the radical healing of forgiveness of which this particular healing is a sign. Second, Jesus claims for Himself the power to forgive sins, which in all the Bible can be attributed only to God (Ex. 34:7; Isaiah 1:18; Psalm 51:4). The teachers of the law immediately accuse Jesus of blaspheming; a proper conclusion only if He is a mere man,” continues Dr. Sproul.
Jesus then said to the paralytic, “—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” In Jesus’ day people slept on mats that were laid upon the floor. These pallets served as a stretcher that were easy to carry. The paralyzed man was lying on such a mattress. “And he rose and went home” (Matthew 9:7).
Matthew recorded the reaction of the religious leaders. What about the response by the crowd? “When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men” (Matthew 9:8).
The crowds saw the miracle, were afraid of Jesus after the miracle, and then glorified God because of the miracle. However, they did not acknowledge Jesus as God even though He performed the miracle. They only recognized that God had given Jesus divine authority, and not that He inherently and rightly possessed divine authority (John 3:1-2).
Praying for physical healing is not wrong. Seeking medical attention is not wrong either. However, the greater need is for God to forgive us of our sins; whether or not sin has caused our physical infirmity.
Soli deo Gloria!