Eric Wallace threw himself out of an airplane and parachuted into the middle of the Air Force Academy football stadium, just before the game. But when he landed, he knelt down before his girlfriend, Melanie and asked her to be his wife. The parachute part was sensational. The proposal was more important. The day will come when what really matters to Eric and Melanie is that they agreed to be husband and wife, “’til death do us part.” On days like that, how he showed up to ask her won’t be so important.
Matthew focused in on what really mattered when he told about the paralyzed guy and Jesus. The way Mark and Luke tell the story, his friends smash a hole in the roof and lower him down on ropes, to get him to Jesus. But Matthew leaves that part of the story out, skipping ahead to what really matters. He wrote:
“Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” (Matthew 9:2)
Being lowered through the roof was the sensational part. Being healed of paralysis must have been what the man was hoping for. But Jesus jumped right to the part that really mattered: “Your sins are forgiven.” I realize that some priests and clergy presume to pronounce sins forgiven, but in truth, only God has the authority to forgive sins. That is why…
“At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!” (Matthew 9:3)
The blasphemy they accused Jesus of was taking on the role of God. In Luke’s account, they asked, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Luke 5:21)
“Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins….” Then he said to the paralytic, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” And the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.” (Matthew 9:4-8)
The startling part of this story was when they tore open the roof. The sensational part was when the man stood up and walked home, healed. That part wowed the crowd! But the healing was only a sign, a sign to prove the part that really matters. What really matters for you and me is that Jesus has the authority on earth to forgive sins.
When you go to Jesus, seeking forgiveness, it makes no difference what you had to do to get there. If He heals your body when you come, that is a bonus, of only temporary significance. But what really matters to you eternally, is that your sins have been completely and eternally forgiven. When your mind wonders and doubts if it is really true, you can be sure it really is, because Jesus has the authority on earth to forgive sins. That’s what really matters.