Getting into a boat, Jesus crossed over the sea and came to His own city. And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, "Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven." And some of the scribes said to themselves, "This fellow blasphemes." And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, "Why are you thinking evil 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, pick up your bed and go home." And he got up and went home. (Matthew 9:1-7 NASB)
In this passage we find three miracles, two which are obvious and one which is implicit. The first miracle which is implicit is the faith of the paralytic and those who brought him to Christ. Recall that faith is a miracle and a gift from God. That miraculous faith, given by the Father, then afforded Christ the opportunity to pronounce the second miracle “your sins are forgiven.” You must recognize the miraculous nature of the forgiveness of sin. If the forgiveness of sin seems natural to you, and not a supernatural happening it would do you well to spend much time studying the attributes of God. Now in some sense we must sympathize with the scribes here, as they have just seen a man pronounce forgiveness over someone, something we too would shudder at. What they had not realized and come to believe was who that Man was, the Son of God Himself. The third miracle was an act of compassion for both the paralytic and the scribe, ‘get up and walk’. It was an act of compassion for the paralytic obviously, but it was for the scribes as well to provide them with the knowledge ‘that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”
What is the application? First, the greatest miracle in this passage is faith of the paralytic and his friends. Without the initial miraculous faith the second and third miracles do not occur. At the same time the greatest miracle is also the least visible, and the least sublime. When reading the passage we certainly get excited concerning the forgiveness of sin, and then when the physical realm is altered and a paralytic walks we become very much enamored with the work of Christ. However we miss the point, because as believers if indeed we are believers, the greatest miracle of this passage is one that we share with this paralytic and that is the miracle of having a heart set against God being removed and replaced with a heart that desires God, ultimately leading to the forgiveness of sin. The greatest miracle is the one all believers share and that is the miracle of faith. Realize that doctors have duplicated that miracle of getting a paralytic to walk, moreover we have even gone so far as forgiving those who have sinned against us, but no one has ever been able to speak the right words do the right things and act the right way to give someone faith. It is always the result of the miraculous. So what is the point? The point is to put it in perspective, too often in charismatic circles there seems to be this need for the paranormal to validate the presence of the Spirit. Yet, in many non or even anti-charismatic circles faith and forgiveness are relegated to a mere mental ascension or ability to wrap one’s mind around the gospel. The truth is that faith is supernatural, and the primary miracle of the Christian life, which results in the miracle of the forgiveness of sin. Realize the ‘sign’ of the healing of the paralytic was not for the believer, or even the paralytic himself, it was for the unbelieving scribe.
Christ made it clear that He had done enough by forgiving the paralytic, but performed the miracle to reveal His own glory. Oh, we could go on and on here. Do you realize that the paralytic was the beneficiary of Jesus getting glory for Himself? Do you realize that the atonement offered at the cross was to glorify the Godhead, and we are beneficiaries of God getting glory for Himself? Any miracle performed in a manner that is not primarily and obviously to the glory of God is either false, or worse, actually being carried out by the forces of darkness. I will stop here, I have probably already run further than this text allows.