The Amazing Power of Jesus
Jesus' Power over Sin
Matthew 9:1-8
      
We’ve been away from our study of “The Amazing Power of Jesus”, and tonight I am anxious for us to return to Matthew 9 and continue.  So far we’ve seen His power over the disease, the natural world and even the supernatural world.  And we’ve taken a look at some of the responses He received to His power. 
 
Tonight, we’ll see His power over sin. 
 
Matthew 9:1-8
 
There's a phrase at the end of verse 2 that I want draw to your attention as a beginning point.  The Lord speaks and says, "Your sins are forgiven you." 
 
That is the theme of this particular section and I might add, that is the distinctive message of Christianity.  Clearly and unquestionably the most distinctive thing that Christianity has to proclaim is the reality that sin can be forgiven.  That is the heart and the very lifeblood of the Christian message.
 
Now that is not the totality of Christianity, but from all the many values and virtues and blessings and application of Christianity, the most essential message that God ever gave to man is sinful man can know the forgiveness of sin.  That is the heart of the message of Christianity, and that is the message of this miracle in Chapter 9:1-8.
 
So with that in mind, let’s look at this fifth miracle.
We find in verse 1 that Jesus got into a boat and went to “His own city".  Immediately before this He has healed a demon-possessed man on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee or the Lake of Galilee. And we don't know how much time lapses between the end of Chapter 8 and Chapter 9.  But at some point, He got back in a boat and proceeded back to the west and came into His own city. 
 
Where did He go?  We might be tempted to think it is Nazareth, but chapter 4 verse 13 says He had moved to Capernaum because they threw Him out of Nazareth. 
 
He was a prophet without honor in His own country so He has reestablished His home just a few miles away in the little town of Capernaum on the north shore of the Lake of Galilee.  Many historians believe He was dwelling at the house of Peter.  We’ve already seen Him in action there healing Peter’s mother-in-law. 
 
We also need to take note that He has created quite a stir in the area and massive crowds are following Him.  He was healing all kinds of diseases and casting out demons and doing all these mighty works and the crowd was building and swelling and now when He comes back it's only natural to assume that another monstrous crowd is going to come to the place that He stays.  And that is precisely what happens.  And in particular, a paralyzed man is brought to the Lord. 
 
 
 
 
Mark 2 and Luke 5 fill in some of the details for us and when we put it all together, we discover that on this occasion, the Lord is in a house and all of a sudden, the roof begins to break away and down through the hole that is created, a man in lowered by four friends so the Lord can heal him. 
And all of that is compacted into a relatively brief account here in Matthew 9.
 
And yet from these four verses come six key words that unlock the meaning of the passage and tell us about Jesus’ power over sin. 
 
Word number one is
 
1. Faith
 
verse 2
 
It’s interesting to me that Matthew chooses to leave out most of the details of this event.  Why does he only share this brief account of this healing?  He leaves out so much information.   
 
For instance, he says, “they” brought a man.  Who is  they?  We have to go to Mark and Luke to find out that they refers to four friends who cared about this man. 
 
So why does Matthew leave all of that out?  Because he is emphasizing the spiritual need, not the physical need.  This man had a physical problem, but he came to Jesus primarily for spiritual help. 
 
The emphasis is on their faith.  And it must have been impressive for Jesus to take note of it.
 
The men must have felt that Jesus could do something to help.  They must have believed that Jesus could heal him and Jesus saw their faith. 
 
It wouldn't have been hard to see because here's what they did.  They came to the house, according to the Mark and Luke account, they couldn't get in, and it would have been tough to crawl around and try to work your way through the crowd when you have four guys carrying a bed, and so they decided there was only one way to get in and they up on the rooftop and tile by tile they began to tear the roof apart. 
 
Now they must have cased the place fairly well because when they got done they dropped him straight down at Jesus' feet.  And you can imagine everybody inside and they're having a discussion and whatever's going on is going on and all of a sudden tiles start disappearing from the ceiling. 
 
This is persistent, insistent, inventive faith.  And they take the roof apart and they drop him through right at the feet of Jesus and he's lying there.  He may have even been paralyzed in terms of his speech because he never says a word.  There's no request given, nothing is said.  He just puts himself at the feet of Jesus in full view of everybody filled with grief. 
 
He knew Jesus was a healer of bodies and I'm convinced that he must have hoped He was also a healer of hearts because the thing that burdened him most was his sin.  It may have been that his illness was a direct result of some sin and he was overwrought with guilt. 
 
What an exhibition of faith!  Most folks would come to the door and say, "Oh forget it.  Look at the crowd.  We have people that drive through the parking lot on Sunday morning and if there isn’t a parking place close to the door, they keep driving. 
 
But they tore the building apart to get him in there and dropped him down.  They had great faith.  And it says Jesus took note of their faith, and I think it included all five of them. 
 
And notice how Jesus responded to their faith:  “Son”.  It's a term of infinite tenderness.  Here is a man who is overwrought with his sin.  He knows he is a sinful man, he believes that this man has the power of God, he has the faith as a sinner to put himself in the presence of a holy God and take his chances and he is afraid.  That is why the Lord says to him, "Don't be afraid.  Take courage."  It simply means stop being afraid.  There's nothing to fear. 
And to prove it, Jesus uses this endearing term of “child”. 
 
And then He says, “Take courage.”  Now this is not the kind of courage that ties a knot, grits its teeth and hangs on for dear life.” 
 
This is the kind of courage that is being assured there is nothing to be afraid of.  He is simply saying, "My beloved child, you can relax.  There's nothing to fear."
 
Now think about that.  There's plenty to fear if you come before God as an unrepentant sinner.  But there was nothing to fear when this man came with a broken heart seeking forgivness. 
His heart was rightHe was shaken with grief.  He was overcome with fear.  He was burdened with guilt, and the Lord says to him, "Everything’s going t be all right!”  He responded to his faith and that leads to a second word
 
2. Forgiveness
 
The end of verse 2
 
Literally, it says, "Dismissed are your sins." And what we have in that little phrase is a divine miracle that ranks with any other miracle.  In an instant, his sins were dismissed. 
 
Now it’s kind of interesting that as far as Matthew records, this man never said a word. He may not have been able to speak.  The paralysis may have reached his mouth or vocal cords. 
 
So if the man didn’t speak or couldn’t speak, how did the Lord know what he wanted? The Lord knows the heart.  All through this whole account He reads the heart.  He read the heart of the man who was sick.  He reads the hearts of those scribes.  He can read the heart of anybody.   He knows the requests before it's ever asked; the giver of all good gifts before we even articulate it.  And so He says, "Dismissed are they sins."
 
And don’t miss what is happening here.  This is the moment of this man’s salvation.  This is forgiveness.  He says, "Dismissed," and when the Lord sends our sins away He sends them as far as the east is from the west, and He buries them in the depths of the deepest sea according to Psalm 103, and the Bible says He remembers them no more. 
There is no sweeter word in the human vocabulary than the word “forgiven”.
 
Around 1739 the Moravians were in Alaska sharing the Gospel and they discovered there was no word in the Eskimo language for forgiveness.  That created a real problem because how do you share the message of salvation without talking about forgiveness?  That's the major message of Christianity. 
 
But they found that the Eskimos had a very interesting word in their language.  It is currently the longest word in the native Alaskan language and it is issumagijoujungnainermik. (issu-magijou-jung-nainer-mik)
 
It literally means, “Not being able to think about it anymore.” Forgiveness means God is not able to think about it anymore.  He has removed it.  He has dismissed it.  He forgave his sins.  The Lord gave to him the greatest gift meant to deal with the greatest need.
 
Faith, forgiveness, third word:
 
3.  Fury
 
Verse 3
 
There is an interesting study in reactions here.  The paralyzed man came to Jesus wanting forgiveness.  These religious leaders came to Jesus and concluded he was a blasphemer.  
 
What made the difference? 
 
He admitted he had a need; they didn’t and wouldn’t.
 
It’s always interesting to me how I can preach a message on forgiveness and some will open their heart to Christ, some will leave.  They're not interested.  They don't want to receive forgiveness. They don’t want to admit they are sinners.  
 
Here are these Pharisees, and instead of recognizing Who Jesus is, they say, "Only God can forgive sin.”  Jesus is claiming to be God if He can forgive sin and that makes Him a blasphemer. 
 
And they were right about the first part.  Only God can forgive sin.  God and God alone can forgive transgressions.  They were right about that, but they were wrong about Christ because He was God.
 
Notice verse 3
 
Mark says, "They said it in their hearts."  They didn't even speak.  Jesus read their thoughts.  He knew what was in the heart of the sick man.  And He knew what was in the mind and thinking of these others as well.  He could read minds.  He's God. 
 
May I note that when they said this man blasphemes this just began to build the fire that ultimately led them to crucify Christ?  In verse 3 they accuse Him of blasphemy.  In verse they accuse Him of immorality.  He runs around with a bad crowd.  He must be a bad man.  He's a blasphemer and He is immoral.
 
 
In verse 14 they accuse Him here of being irreligious.  You don't follow the normal procedure of religion.   You are blasphemous.  You are immoral.  You are irreligious and the culmination, verse 34, they accuse Him of being demonic. 
 
And their fury just continues to grow.   
 
What a contrast.  On the one hand the faith and the forgiveness; on the other hand the fury and Christ in the middle. 
 
Fourth word,
 
4. De-Fense
 
Verse 4
 
Jesus doesn't always defend His action, but He does here because it's an important truth.  Jesus knew what they were thinking and He says, "Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?" 
 
What did He mean by that?  Think about it this way:  An evil heart is a heart that plots or works against God.  In Acts 5, Ananias and Sapphira tried to deceive God.  Peter said, "Why has Satan entered your heart to deceive God?"  In Chapter 8, Simon tried to deceive God.  An evil heart is one that plots against God.  Jesus is asking, “Why are you plotting?  Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?”   Lieterally, He asks, “Why do you want Me dead?”
 
Then watch His argument in verse 5
 
 
 
Now an important distinction needs to be made.  Notice that Jesus doesn’t say, “Which is easier to do”, but “Which is easier to say”.  Why does He phrase His question as He does? 
 
Well, let’s look at it both ways.  If He is talking about “doing”, the answer is neither.  Neither is easier to do. And you will notice they don't give an answer.  Both are impossible to men, both are possible to God.  They knew they couldn't say either one, but He could say both.  He can do either with the same divine ease.  They're both just as easy to Him.  God doesn't sweat doing anything.  Only God can heal.  Only God can forgive. 
 
After all, they were the ones who taught that disease and sickness was the result of sin so the two things were inseparable.  And anybody who could heal disease could forgive sin and one who could forgive sin could heal diseases.  Their own theology told them that. 
 
So if the Lord is talking about doing, He can say,  "Look.  You're stuck.  If I can do one, I can do the other.  And if I can do either, I can do both, therefore, I'm not a blasphemer, I'm God."  They were trapped.  They knew He could heal and when He said, "Is it easier to forgive," they couldn't say yes because it wasn't, only God could do that and only God could do the other.  If Jesus put away sickness, disease, and demons, and disasters, and death, He could certain deal with sin. 
 
But the text actually uses the word say rather than do.  We know neither is easier to do.  But which is easier to say?
Obviously, it is easier to say, “Your sins be forgiven, isn't it?  That's a lot easier to say. I could say to any one of you, "Your sins be forgiven" and the result can’t be proven either way.  It's easy to say, and the proof is off in the future somewhere. 
 
But if one of you rolls up in a wheelchair and I say, "Rise up and walk," it’s pretty easy to verify if I can do that or not.  So in that regard, it's easier to say your sins be forgiven you, if that's all you're going to do is say it. 
 
So, having said that, watch verse 6a.
 
If all He had said was “your sins be forgiven” there would have been room for doubt if He really did or not.  But when He says rise up and walk, the guy rises up and walks and he has the power to do that, the only thing they can conclude that He must have forgiven his sins because the two are inseparably linked and the validation of one is found in the other.
 
It's the same as when he cast the demons out of the maniacs at Gadara and sent them into the pigs.  If He'd just said, "Demons leave," nobody would have known whether they left or where they went.  But when they saw two thousand pigs take a hog dive off a cliff and drown in the sea they knew exactly what had happened.  At the word of Jesus, the demons entered those pigs and it proved that He had cleansed those two men.
 
And so here is the same thing.  He is healing the man as proof of His power to forgive, but it was the forgiveness that was the root and the disease that was the symptom.  If He could do one He could do the other. 
That leads us to the fifth word.
 
5. Force
 
verse 7
 
Can you imagine how that scene played out?  Here his four friends are with their heads through the roof.  They're watching.  The people are listening.  The Pharisees haven't said a word.  Nobody has talked except Jesus. 
 
He's read their hearts and nailed them to the wall with his argument, and now He says, "Get up and go home fellow."  The guy gets up, rolls up his little bed under his arm, picks up the little wood frame, and in my mind’s eye, I can just see that crowd parting and making an aisle as he walks out of that house.
 
And when he got outside can you imagine what went on when his four buddies came tripping down the stairs on the outside?  And can you imagine the trip home? 
 
What power!  Jesus has the power to forgive your sin.  That's far better than healing your disease.  And as a child of God, you get both!!
 
And that leads us to the last word and that is
 
6. Fear
 
Verse 8
 
Now we’ve seen this before. Jesus does a miracle and it strikes fear in the hearts of those around. 
 
In fact, the word used there is where we get our word for phobia. 
 
They knew God was there.  God was in their midst.  They were standing there looking at Jesus, but they were seeing God. I don't think they understood the fullness of all of that.  They didn’t have all their theology figured out about incarnation and all that. 
 
But they knew God was there and they'd given power unto that man and they were afraid with that kind of fear that someone feels in the presence of one who is infinitely superior. 
 
This fear, this reverential awe of God is the substance out of which all Christian behavior is to come.  They glorify God and so should we.  They did it because they feared God; they reverenced Him; they were in awe of His presence.  That's the right response.  I hope you have such awe of Christ.
 
Listen:  the greatest message we have to give is that Jesus has power over sin.  Christ offers forgiveness, blocks out all the past, washes away all sins, past, present future.  That is the greatest news you’ll ever hear and it's available to you. 
 
Let's pray
 
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